Friday, June 22, 2012

How about preserving something more than just pickles?

Recently, I had the opportunity to perform at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, US. Later, I also visited their permanent exhibits, particularly the Indian exhibits. It hurt to see original sculptures dating back to the Chola and Chalukya dynasties sitting there, safely guarded and protected. A museum in Dresden, Germany houses a miniature recreation of the audience hall at the court of the great Moghul Aurangzeb. My question is how these sculptures get out in the first place. Mind you, Germany has had an equally tumultuous past, if not worse. What is it that we are so busily occupied with that we fail to create and nurture a desire to preserve our past?

We call ours the world’s oldest civilizations, but cannot guard what belongs to us. It is not as much about what is rightfully ours as it is about our desire to preserve. We are all so absorbed in the mediocrity of what we call ‘westernization’ that we are absolutely ignorant of this rampant backyard sale of ancient Indian artistry. A lot of the museums that I talk about run solely on corporate sponsorships and public donations. We, on the other hand, have the resources to design custom-made cars and huge houses, but think that philanthropy and donation is a waste of money.

I am not an ardent fan of the West, but I do admire their attitude of preservation and continuation of the Arts, be it in any form. When we have soaked in so much from them, why not that too?

(-Written in 2010)

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