Inspiration Or Conflagration?

Posted on May 10, 2011 in Specials

By Sunanda Ranjan:

Artistic freedom is a touchy topic, with opinions on the limits it ought to be allowed varying from person to person. And when that freedom threatens to interfere with religion, a sensitive subject on any given day, you know you’re treading dangerous ground.

Australian fashion designer Lisa Blue recently came out with a swim wear line “inspired” by Hindu deities. Not surprising, since, Hinduism has often served as a spiritual retreat to uninspired, disillusioned celebrities/westerners for centuries now.

However, in all the million and one ways her inspiration could have manifested itself-she chooses to paste Goddess Lakshmi’s picture on the lower half of her rather uninspired bikini.

Aesthetically speaking, the whole inspiration business seems to be a sorry excuse for a designer who was clearly in want of her 15 minutes of fame-for the simple reason that there’s nothing, NOTHING creative, or distinctive about her designs. It was an ordinary two-piece with a horribly misplaced depiction of divinity.

As an advocate of artistic freedom, I still fail to see the poetry in her ideas. Art doesn’t have boundaries-it is transcendental. Art is madness-it is whatever catches the fancy of an artist at any point in time. However, there isn’t a chance that Blue qualifies into this category. For tell me, where’s the art in picking up a picture which defines the collective faith of millions, and placing it on a woman’s derriere?

This is a clear case of sensationalism. I fail to understand how one can attempt to play with the emotions of people on a subject so sensitive, that even as late as 2001, we witnessed people losing their lives to the hysteria it evokes.

This can never qualify as “artistic freedom”.

Roberto Cavalli has been guilty of it in the past, too. The consequent furore to a similar swim-wear line of his had forced him to recall the “inspired” clothing from the markets. There are people who have made shoes with hindu deities’ pictures on them-now tell me, in a religion where people don’t enter with their footwear on, the same premises as house their Gods’ idols , how can you claim to want to celebrate their faith with such outrageous portrayal?

Personally, I’m not a religious person. I hold no affinity for the practices/ rituals which I’m expected to carry out/conform to as a person born into a “Hindu” family.

However, knowing that the same ideals which hold no meaning to me, are held sacred by millions around me-I know my limits when voicing my disregard for the same. Not everyone with a religious bent of mind is a fundamentalist. There are people who actually find peace in their faith, who feel closer to the power governing the universe, thanks to their religion.

Not everyone visiting the temple is a Sunday Christian.

One needs to be more careful when it’s the sentiments of so many at stake. There’s no chance these trivial attempts at “broad-minded” inspiration-drawing can ever belittle people’s faith. If anything, in the larger sphere of things, the likes of Blue would only end up being the laughing stock of the world on account of their incompetence. Still, all these experiments are in really, really poor taste.

And please, it’s not like we are closed up to unconventional depictions of God per se. Scores of movies, cartoonists and stand ups have often utilized religion to derive humour. After all, we’ll be a sad people if we refuse to find humour in what has come to be the pre-dominant force in human society.

But you need to know where to draw the line between “inspiration” and utter flagration of someone’s faith and incompetence presented under the garb of the “celebration” of an institution.