It’s 23rd July. I update my Facebook status: A beautiful post finds a place in my head. Now to find the time.
Three people like the status; the post itself does not form, for a long and indeterminate while.
I am thinking of friends. Actually, I am thinking of their absence. The fact that I am thinking of their absence illuminates their presence. They are here, in my head or heart or whatever component, physical or spiritual – that makes them present before me. The make-believe is exhausting. I give up.
This post is not that beautiful post that found a place in my head that I mentioned on Facebook.
This is a different post. It is, I think, still a beautiful post.
Of the many men who have contributed in creating the most definitive art are the ones who never signed their work. There must have been one, of many like him, that contributed to the construction of the wondrous fort of Sindhudurg. Of the men and the women who worked tirelessly at this engineering feat not a single one is mentioned anywhere. Not one of them felt the need to carve his or her name for posterity.
The brave Marathas built this fort.
Every identity was engulfed in the single identity, in that one single statement. We know of the architect, for that is documented somewhere. We know of the administrator, for that is documented somewhere.
Not a single person who contributed to the erection of this fort is known; documented - to be precise. Not one of them ever felt the need to document his contribution. Where art has now succumbed to the identity and the pathos of an artist, this is a glaring example of art for art’s sake. A fort? As art? You would be right to question the construction of a fort as art. I will not argue on that.
If forts don’t convince you enough, consider Madhubani paintings or Warli art (Not the one that your cousin sells commercially; the ones that were the original)
A few hundred years later, young men in gaudy shirts hopeful of participating in popular love or similar such, exhibiting a deep identity crisis, have a compulsion to use chalk or whatever means to carve or inscribe their identity on the stones that an unidentified artist slaved to compose a masterpiece.
While the ones who built the masterpiece never felt a need for recognition, those that visit have a craving to inscribe their identity on a heritage that they are wretched derivatives of. Fie on those wretched souls!
Graffiti psychology has been studied enough, so I shall not even begin to make an attempt to discuss that further. Feel free to Google.
My best friend and I have a talk about this. She says that I have made a wonderful statement in saying, “Those that built it did not feel the need to express a personal identity; those that visit someone else’s creation feel the need to display their inadequate identities.”
We – and no surprises here – move to a discussion on contemporary art. I do not know for a fact, where the concept of a signature on a piece of art came from. The need to sign art is a need to express a human equivalent of the God-complex. “I created this”. In contemporary times, to my mind, it is like proprietary software vs. opens-source software. Signed and unsigned. Belongs and doesn’t belong. Those that want to posses art are not much different and the symbiotic relationship between the artist and the audience is perpetuated through the signature. You possess a traditional unsigned Warli and I possess a Souza. Of a few square feet of canvas, my pride is often reduced to the few square inches on the bottom right of the canvas.
Not so long ago, my father used own a seal. A red sealing wax bar, burnt – their crimson simmering droplets on the lip of the envelope and ‘sealed’ with a calligraphic press of his initials. Nothing is more personal than that. Nothing more one-to-one. Only the recipient can see what’s inside the envelope. History is witness of seals. The question therefore is; if signed art is as personal? Unlike the geometric casts of tribal women of Warli, whose representation is available to all of us? Is signed contemporary art available to the privileged few? Not really – we know that. They openly exhibit their expression with gay wanton yet sign it for an unknown exclusivity.
This post has no conclusion.
That post about friends; I don’t think it will ever get published.