A Scottish art exhibition invited visitors to deface a copy of the Bible. The exhibit, Untitled 2009, is part of the ‘Made In Gods Image’ exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow and was thought up by local artist Anthony Schrag. The intention was for gays and transsexuals who felt left out of religion to write their way back in to the holy book. But visitors offered pens by gallery staff had other ideas, and have scrawled a series of obscene remarks.
Is art beyond the realm of social discourse? Would one consider it as a political commentary that seeks to exclude certain segments of people because of their other beliefs and actions? Have we not heard about incidents of homosexuality within the Church?
The flip side is this: Why does the gay community wish to belong to a faith system that is mainstream when they are not? Does writing obscene remarks lessen their feeling of being left out?
Apparently, after the Pope’s objection, the Bible has been placed in a locked case and visitors can write their comments on blank sheets of paper. They may as well have a meeting or seminar. Incidentally, copies of the Bible, as I am sure other scriptures, are distributed freely. At least, I got several copies from back in my school days to a couple of years ago. How would anyone know whether or not I would treat it with any respect? Do those with evangelical fervour think for a moment that what they deem holy could mean nothing to another and that itself is a sort of defilement?
I don’t find such art particularly interesting or enlightening or even a potent commentary. However, the Church could just have taken up the issue for what it is. Instead, this is what a report states:
The adviser to the head of the Catholic Church said the project was disgusting and offensive. They would not think of doing it to the Koran, he added.
Who are the ‘they’? Who flushed the Koran down the toilet? Who published those Danish cartoons? If people did react, they were immediately termed Islamists, jihadis and intolerant. Some of us who took a view that a religion for its believers must be large enough to withstand such onslaughts were also called jihadis!
So, let us deal with an issue closer to home.
The Prophet’s picture has found its way in a Hindi book chapter in Uttar Pradesh on different religious figures who have contributed to humanity (Manav Uthaan ke Liye Vibhinn Dharmo ka Yogdaan). Islam does not permit publication of the pictures of the Prophet, according to a report. A clarification. There are no pictures available or even ancient artistic impressions. And, yes, the religion does not allow such depictions because it does not believe in iconography. That is the reason I have often mentioned tombs being unIslamic.
Yuvraj Dutt, the writer, said the Prophet’s picture was available on the internet and was downloaded from there. Incidentally, the picture was added in the third edition of the book in 2009.
It begs the question: why now? Obviously, they knew it was not exactly the done thing. What is the motive? Why this desperate urge to give a face to the Prophet? Because politics needs something.
Ex-state minister and SP leader Ujjawal Raman Singh threatened that the party would take to the streets and also raise the issue in the assembly if the photograph was not removed.
Please note the name of this gentleman. He is not a Muslim protecting his faith. Just as the first person to call for a ban on Satanic Verses was Khushwant Singh, a Sikh.
And this is my beef. I may well say that it is no big deal, but once it is made an issue of then do not expect silence. The Pope makes a noise; the maulvis will too. And the saffron guys do it as well when their god images, which are used artistically often, are distorted in any manner.
Oh, we speak about madrassas and how only religion is taught there. Here are students in a Mumbai school praying to the snake god: