My first published article am super thrilled about!
The photographs, that populate the archive of Simmons, represent a history, the violence of which has been erased in ways that enable that violence to continue into the contemporary. The exhibition embeds itself in a history of an arts practice defining itself in its opposition to the unruly chaotic caste and language based democratic appropriations of street and visual space. It creates a desire, a nostalgia that ends up ironically supporting private capital’s appropriation of public space.
This post carries on some of the research found on this blog investigating into the conditions under which public tourist spaces are being handed over to private capital/unelected government in the name of development in Karnataka.
V Ravichander, co-chair of Karnataka Tourism Vision Group, has consistently stated in press reports that it was the Government of Karnataka who approached private capital to adopt these tourist spaces. Here’s a quote from March 28th 2016,
“KTVG played no role in suggesting the adoption of VAG. The adoption programme under corporate social responsibility (CSR) was conceived by the Karanataka government’s tourism ministry. KTVG welcomed it once it became the official policy of the government, and approached corporates and foundations to let them know about the adoption programme. The reality is that there aren’t donors queuing up showing interest; the properties adopted had only one suitor though over 100 firms were approached.” Firstpost
I have thought about writing this for quite a long time not knowing how to do it. The recent protests at Tate Modern brings new hope about solidarities amongst women, solidarities amongst artists and most importantly a questioning of institutions that engage in silences erasing women’s histories of violence.
This protest existed in many spaces. We are angry at the way the art institution lets down women artists, artists of colour, queer artists, non binary artists and trans artists by staying silent over violence against our bodies. We are angry at the erasure of these marginalised bodies from archives, and the lack of justice we constantly suffer.
We were also angry that the death of a woman of colour is deemed so unimportant it has no repercussions for the man who allegedly killed her.
This is in response to an article that appeared in Deccan Herald which covered the fact that three sites slated to aspire to heritage status couldn’t do so because of bureaucratic incompetence.
Some more information needs to be added to this article to understand what we might be asking for:
Some of the sites mentioned in this article are up for grabs by private parties which the Tourism department of Karnataka is doing in collusion with a para-governance body called Karnataka Tourism Vision Group.
MoUs have been drawn up for instance with Belur Halebid. Coffee day enterprises is set to take it over.
Bidar and Srirangapatna have been identified as up for grabs in the Government circular TD98 TTT2014
Getting these places on to the world heritage list only means that the value of it goes up – the actual sites, the land surrounding it etc which is reaped not by the local community as the UNESCO body intends it for but for private businesses who have managed through KTVG and the Tourism Department to pass favourable laws that would make opening and profiting from businesses here a cakewalk.
C G Betsurmath is the person who signed on the MoU with Tasveer Foundation giving away control of a public art space – Venkatappa Art Gallery – to a private party. This MoU has run afoul of Bengaluru’s artists who have been protesting it for the past few months.
The Tourism department has not been open about the process of handing over public spaces to private parties even refusing to answer RTIs. CG Betsurmath asking for exemption from the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement Act only points to the opaque way in which the department of Museums and Archaeology has been operating. This means that no questions can be asked about who the tenders are given to continuing what they have been doing with KTVG. This has to be strongly resisted.
DR Gopal was the person in charge of this whose appointment was withdrawn a week after he joined work. He contested the loss of his post but did not win the case. When he was in such a position the blame needs to lie on the recruitment procedures rather than on Gopal who would have been unable to carry out his responsibilities while simultaneously fighting the government.
Jyoti Hosagrahar who is the UNESCO Chair at Srishti was/is a member of the Karnataka Tourism Vision Group. The government seems to have appointed this group as the ‘go to’ people for everything without following due process.
It is important before we ask for such a recognition that we pause to consider who benefits especially in the wake of what happened at Hampi. For more info on Hampi and evictions see a report by Equations here.