Recently I heard of an artist of Serbia by the name of Marina Abramovic who did unique social experiments. She once laid out 72 articles on a table and asked people to use it on her. Three years back she sat up on a chair in a gallery in New York where people at random could sit and talk to her. There was a similar social experiment in England where she would meet people in an art gallery.
She has been hated and loved during these moments of liberty she provides to the audience. A razor has been used on her, her clothes have been torn and people have cried in front of her as well. Naked emotions is what she conjures in people. And we get to see it as well.
What if Marina Abramovic were in India? Let’s say in Banaras. One thing I am very sure would have happened. She would have either been worshipped or asked to worship. Idols, coconut, flowers, and vermilion would have been placed before her. Women would not have trodden close to her, at least those who come from a middle-class background. I doubt if her clothes would have been torn and if they had been, she would have a saffron shawl to cover her up. Gangajal would be a permanent presence close to her. And the sadhus would have stared at her unable to fathom what kind of a sadhana she was doing being a woman!
Let’s say she was in Mumbai. Fashionistas would have surrounded her for a while. The cream of the city would be there to visit given the kind of celebrity status she has gained now. But accompanying them would also be the common man to have a glimpse of a lady who is bold enough to sit and talk to anybody who comes to her. The common man would have bewildered or lured at her body, something so pertinent in the male in India. They would either have been bored or kept a mental note of ecstasy on seeing this woman. A question which comes to mind is if anybody would have cried. I think if middle-class Indian women reach her without their men, they would cry out viscously in front of her. They have internal wounds, something that would burst out open on seeing a strong woman like her.
Delhi would be taken over by powerful people who would come and watch and who knows, looking at the popularity of the artist given her an offer. Something of a quid pro quo arrangement which I am sure she would have rejected. But Delhi will make her famous because people would talk about it. Her acclaim would not only spread worldwide but also in India. Who knows of multiple offers from other places that would fall on her lap.
Finally, let’s take her to Patna. My guess is the art galleries would have been empty except for school and college going students. People tend to stay away from events like these; they are too involved in handling their own affairs. Patna has its own brand of celebrities and artists and they may have paid a visit. Given the bad name the state enjoys one does get tempted to say that evil may be done to her in the city. But my experience of being with that place is that she will be safe and secure. The only thing which remains to be seen is whether the poor can make a contact with her. Repressed emotions will flow if it happens.
Let’s bring her to this country someday.