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Drawing (on) Politics: Aubrey Collette in Sri Lanka

Samarth Singhal[1]

 Volume 6, Number 2, 2016 I Full Text PDF

Article DOI:  10.21659/chitro.v6n2.06

Received on July 14, 2016.
Accepted on August 1, 2016.
Published on August 4, 2016.

Abstract

Political Cartooning or Graphic Satire does not have a long history and its unique position between art history and newsprint allows it advantages and forces compromises. The use of caricature and the comic makes it more difficult to read such a genre. Moreover, it involves a clear tussle between the ‘text’ and the ‘image’ and its ‘popularity’ can at best be suspect. In such a scenario analysing Collette’s work in Sri Lanka as a socio-political critique is both urgent and worthwhile. Sri Lanka’s history of continuing conflict has prompted many responses, Collette’s being one such response. The question then becomes: Is graphic satire a viable means of critique? Is it always already contained? Why/not? What if the cartoonist himself belongs to a community that is ‘marginalized’ in national discourses? Does this impact the production and reception of his work? It is possible to answer these questions locating Collette in a lineage of theoretical interventions on the comic and the visual, followed by a close reading of his cartoons. Cartoons have only recently acquired attention in the academia as popular visual culture or culture studies and it will repay to ask where the genre can go under the scrutiny of these critical terms.

 Keywords: Cartoon, Visuality, South Asia, Cultural Studies, Caricature

Durga Idols of Kumartuli: Surviving Oral Traditions through Changes

Dr. Lopamudra Maitra, Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC- UG), Pune

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Introduction

As the torrential rain gushes down the plastic and tarpaulin sheets of the narrow alleys in Kumartuli, covering the half-made clay idols, the smell of wet earth emanates, reverberates, encircles and rises up to announce the arrival of the auspicious occasion— Durga Puja. Finally, as the dawn of Mahalaya announces the arrival of the Devipaksha and the last ablutions are offered to seek blessings from one’s forefathers on the banks of the sacred river Ganga, the artisans of Kumartuli pronounce the occasion through invoking the powers of the female goddess by painting the eyes of the idols of Durga, famously known as Chokkhudaan or bestowing of the eyes. A popular and annual sight in the region every year, this relatively small, yet largely famous and well-renowned region of Kumartuli stands tucked within the narrow lanes and by-lanes of Sovabazar area of the northern region of the present city of Kolkata (West Bengal, India) and the relatively recent construction of the underground metro-railway station of the same name.  A busy place for idol-makers, the kumbhars, their small and narrow workshops, aligned against their crowded tenements, hum with the buzz of activities at most times of the year, especially during the time of the Durga puja. Over the years, the region has experienced a surge and witnessed changes in the style of the clay idols, their expression and depictions, especially the ones made for Durga puja. Carrying forth a string of history within itself, as these depictions represent a strain of continuity of the famous worship of female deities of the region, the changes and alterations in visual depictions of the idols made in Kumartuli also help to reflect new ideas and ideologies in the age of new-media, forming an important part of Visual Anthropology. Based on an extensive fieldwork in the region of Kumartuli and various parts of Kolkata throughout the month of Aswina (September-October) between 2011-2012, this paper tries to look into the significant aspects of the representations of the idol-making formats of Kumartuli, their changing presentations and new reflections and how the local history, oral traditions and lores still manifest themselves through these changing representations.

Temples of Bengal: Material Style and Technological Evolution

Priyanka Mangaonkar

Architect and Researcher


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Art of Bengal, which was mainly religious in nature, was expressed through the medium of temples. Brick temples of Bengal (built between 16th and 19th century) forms one of the most distinctive groups of sacred monuments in India. Due to multiple artistic influences acting upon the region during this period the Brick temples of Bengal show wide range of forms and techniques of construction.  Hence the temples constitute a coherent series in their architecture and sculpture, characteristically expressed in brick and terracotta. The chronological span also significant coinciding with the emergence of the new Bengali culture. “In fact, the Bengali temples may be viewed as one of the most important manifestations of this regions culture, closely associated with contemporary movements in religion, literature and the arts as well as with broader political, social and economic developments.”[i] Due to the political unification and consequent independence of Bengal; a unique Bengali style of monumental architecture was created which was also an expression of the local idioms. “Another important result of this change was the combination of Hindu and Muslim elements as intrinsic part of Bengali culture: thus, Muslim rulers and monumental Islamic architecture, but Hindu revivalism and religious poetry.”[ii]

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