Universiteit Leiden

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Lecture

Gravensteen Lecture | Friday 30 Nov | Gandhi in the Gallery: The Art of Disobedience

Date
Friday 30 November 2018
Time
Series
Gravensteen Lectures
Location
Gravensteen
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden
Room
111

Mohandas K. Gandhi has been described as an artist of non-violence, crafting a set of practices of the self and politics that earned him the mantle of Mahatma, the great soul. There is an enormous body of scholarship that has explored and critiqued Gandhis philosophy and praxis of satyagraha, non-violent civil disobedience. Yet what does it mean to think of sataygraha as an aesthetic regime, and its principal exponent as the paradigmatic artist of disobedience? In this lecture, Professor Sumathi Ramaswamy will set out to answer these questions with the help of Indias modern artists who have turned to the Mahatma as their muse over the past century, but especially in recent decades. In the process, they have transformed Gandhi into an aesthetic subject worthy of artistic investment across a wide range of media ranging from painting and sculpture to video installation works and digital productions. At a time when Gandhi has been reduced to a hollow symbol and set of empty platitudes in the land of his birth, why have Indias artists lavished so much attention on the Mahatma? This is especially ironical given that in his own lifetime, Gandhi himself appeared to have had little time for the visual arts, or for artists for that matter. Professor Ramaswamy will reflect on this irony even as she makes a conceptual argument for how the tools of visual and media history reveal the intimate connection between aesthetics, ethical action, and non-violent politics in our time.

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