The 377191 Wall: A New Window TO Understanding

In its 6th edition, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival is stepping beyond the medium of film to integrate new modes of expression into its festival agenda.The 377191 Wall – a group art show of 271 mixed media works by 238 artists was inaugurated on Saturday May 23, 2015 at Gallery Beyond. The art exhibition is organized by Gallery Beyond in association with KASHISH. The exhibition, inaugurated by senior artist Prabhakar Kolte, will run till June 27 at Gallery Beyond, Great Western Building, Kala Ghoda.

Brinda C Miller
Brinda C Miller

“Each object of art here represents 238 worlds that you can see together. It was sheer genius to bring two visual mediums together. It helps you free a part of yourself and other people. I believe that film is our most contemporary medium. Truly contemporary films hold the perfect lens to our world,’’ said Kolte.

Noted artist Brinda C Miller, whose work is also part of the show said that the artists had come together for a cause. “We are here for a reason and we are here for th cause. On behalf of the exhibiting artists, we are honoured to be a part of this venture. The works look brilliant together and the paintings have been beautifully presented,’’ said Brinda C Miller.

The group-show has been titled ‘The 377191 Wall’, based on two contrasting pieces of Indian legislation, namely Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution that guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of choice, and Section 377 of the IPC that criminalizes same-sex activity.

The dichotomy served as a guiding point to the 238 artists from across the country who came together to put up an astounding 279 pieces of art for this special showcase.

Sridhar Rangayan wih Vibhuraj Kapoor
Sridhar Rangayan wih Vibhuraj Kapoor

“Wanting to live with freedom is a common sentiment to both the artistic and the LGBT community. We hope this show will bring in a diverse audience segment to KASHISH by communicating the diversity of the LGBT experience through art. We are striving to remove society’s misconceptions surrounding gay people and open a new window to understanding,’’ said Festival Director Sridhar Rangayan.

“As part of our shared desire to hold collateral events for Kashish, I thought we could collaborate on our core competence of art. The 377191 Wall is a small effort in a long journey. This show lets a unique mix of young and senior artists work without censorship,’’ said Vibhuraj Kapoor, owner of Gallery Beyond.

National award winning filmmaker Aruna Raje, who was also a jury at KASHISH 2013, was a guest at the art show. “The festival stands for freedom and promotes acceptance for you the way you are. The film festival, because of its very nature, is a process of inclusion and being included yourself. A time will come when we realize everyone is the same and has the right to live the same way,” said Aruna Raje.

“Despite a horrific horrendous law that criminalizes the very existence of the community, there are 1000s of LGBT who lead their lives in the open,’’ said Vivek Anand, CEO of Humsafar Trust. KASHISH 2015 is organized by Solaris Pictures. Humsafar Trust is the co organizer.

Aruna Raje

The list of well-known contributing artists includes: Brinda C Miller, JehangirJani, Dipti Bondre, Paul Bhosale, Lalitha Lajmi, Anju Dhodiya, Mithu Sen, Kahini Arte Merchant, Baiju Parthan, Yusuf Arrakal, Gieve Patel and Jaideep Mehrotra.

Following the open invitation to the art fraternity, the artist community responded enthusiastically by creating fresh work within a span of two months. The works are not limited to the LGBT experience alone but resonate with an abundance of themes including feminism, women’s emancipation, isolation, duality and the search for identity and belonging.

“The freedom of choice and expression are intrinsic both to the art world and to the queer world. Anything that curbs expression stifles the soul,” said artist Dipti Bondre.

Astad Deboo
Astad Deboo

The KASHISH trailer was screened, comprising of a short history of the film festival, intercut with snippets from this year’s key films.Trailers of the following films were screened: Love is Strange, No Easy Walk to Freedom, Qissa and Out in the Line Up.Two short films, Ganesh Matkari’s Shot and Jheel, made by the students of TISS, were also screened as part of KASHISH Pop – Up at the art exhibition. Painter and stand-up comic Jenney Bhatt entertained the audience with a stand-up routine on the quirks of the art community.

About The 377191 Wall

“Why 377191? Because Freedom to choose opens up the mind to ways of growth in any field, more so in art and culture. We come from a lineage where arts and culture had no boundaries. We have enough tangible history to uphold it whether it is the sculpture at Khajuraho or our Mythologies,’’ said Vibhuraj Kapoor, owner of Gallery Beyond, who has also curated the show.

Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India guarantees every citizen the fundamental right to free speech and expression. Over the years this freedom has faced the onslaught of diktats, the moral police and vigilantes.

Prabhakar Kolte centre with Jenny Bhatt left
Prabhakar Kolte (centre) with Jenny Bhatt (left)

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises same sex relationships, taking away from a person their right to choose love. The law affects not just the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community but everyone who believes in personal choices of sexual and gender expression.

The artists have come together to express their solidarity with the fundamental right to express and the freedom to choose. At a time when art and culture is being stifled by censorship and diktats, artists and activists have united to voice their opinion on freedom, equality and dignity. The group show of 279 mixed media works are also a timely reminder that the Constitution protects the “right to free speech and expression.

Date: May 23- June 27, 2015

Timings: 11 am to 6.30 pm

VenueGallery Beyond, 130/132, First Floor, Great Western Building, Shahid Bhagat Singh Road, Fort, Mumbai- 01.