From the #BLM movement to the pandemic, memes go for the jugular with their wit

As a xennial, I exist on a strange cusp. Having lived both the ‘analog’ and ‘digital’ life I’ve often swung between a quest for simpler, low-noise Gen X life, and a paralysing millennial dependence on the Internet. However, the lockdown during this mad year of the pandemic has landed me firmly on the web-side of the fence. For many of us, it was the Internet that kept us tethered to sanity while we lived in our lonely islands for months....

Republic of Religion: Mapping India’s failed tryst with secularism

The coronavirus pandemic has dominated our thoughts and news for the better part of 2020. The juggernaut of this disease seems to have rendered irrelevant everything that came before it. It behooved humankind to rally all its forces to fight this extraordinary situation together, forgetting all its social, cultural, and racial differences. And for a while, it seemed to be doing so. But ideals fall soon through the cracks of reality, and people resort to discriminatory behaviours even when death stands knocking on our doors...

Stronger Together

Culture Wire scans the scattered nature of the arts and culture sector in India and argues for the urgent need to unite as formal representative bodies. Since the lockdown was first imposed in India in late March, Culture Wire has repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that the arts and culture sector is in deep distress; that we’re doing what we can; and that we want and need the government to step up and help floundering artistes, arts organisations, and culture professionals.

Staging Tech

The COVID-19 pandemic has sent everyone rushing into the arms of technology. We take a look at some of the most inspiring solutions embraced by the art and culture sector. Most of the world seems to have gone through the seven stages of pandemic grief. In the last seven months since the news first broke, we’ve gone from shock and denial to anger and depression, to acceptance and hope. The great driving force of economics has forced us back on our feet, pushing us to make the best of these critical times.


A Mumbai-based arts collective, stayIN aLIVE, has rapidly taken up the creation of emergency funds and grants to help artists in distress There have been numerous ruminations on artistic practice and its connection with slowness, stillness even. The creative process cannot be rushed, they say. Artists cannot be pushed to create, they say. But the empathy of an artist’s soul cannot be stemmed either. It has manifested in the way the arts community has swiftly come together...

The Fine Art of Financial Wellness

How does one maintain financial health during (and after) a global crisis? Experts weigh in. The COVID-19 pandemic has generated sudden and severe impact on the art and culture sector. The uncertainty around the crisis has raised critical questions about the resilience and survival of the sector and its many players. While there are no official figures on the economic impact of the crisis on the arts sector, a survey of 170 companies by Events and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) stated that the industry is expected to take INR 1 trillion hit in revenue with 52.91% of companies losing 90% of their business between March-July 2020 owing to COVID-19 related cancellations.

Zarina: Artist who painted pain of exile, homebound at last

There has been a stream of heart-warming obituaries for 83-year-old Zarina Hashmi in the media since she passed away in London on April 25. The passing of an octogenarian artist inspiring so many headlines during a global pandemic may seem like a surprise to some, but perhaps it isn’t. Art is the only balm for our collective anxieties at the moment, and the loss of a figure like hers is profound indeed. And it evokes twice the mourning because it implies not just the loss of an Indian Muslim woman in the realm of modern art – a rarity – but also the loss of a quietly assertive voice that represented the underrepresented.

Truth be told, masks expose the hidden face

Some time during the early 17th century, when numerous plagues were raging across Europe, hooded figures wearing beaked masks came to be associated with sure death. These figures were actually plague doctors, who were clothed in their version of the hazmat suit. Although full robes weren’t uncommon, it is the mask with glasses and a top hat, that gave it all its sinister associations. Charles De Lorme, the physician to the European royals, is credited with inventing that infamous outfit and mask...

End of variety: Artist Satish Gujral passes away at 94

Artist Satish Gujral passed away on March 26, 2020. He was 94. For many, this news may not have caused even the slightest furrow of the brow or a downward turn of the lips, especially when there are a hundred other Coronavirus-related news links on the feed, screaming for attention. In the time of a pandemic, severe lockdowns, and literal questions about life and death, the news of the passing of an artist and an old man cannot presume to get much eyeball hang time.

Losing artfully

The term, Nail House, comes from a Chinese pun that refers to nails that stick stubbornly out from a piece of wood and cannot be hammered down (or presumably pulled out). In real estate parlance, it is more popularly known as a ‘holdout’, referring to owners of a piece of land who refuse to sell to developers, despite everything around their plot being sold and ready for redevelopment. The ‘holdouters’ often occur as caricatures and nut jobs in the narrative of the land shark.

Musical notes

Bongaa: ‘Unmusical’; idiotically out of tune and unaware of it. Opening a random page of the new edition of The Dictionary of Hindustani Classical Music by Pandit Amarnath, the first word I chance upon is this. Given that it is a ‘book’ about music, this is a most hilarious irony. But I can almost picture its writer, grimly chiding a student and calling him or her “bongaa”. And suddenly, it’s not funny any more. Imagine sitting before a stalwart of Indian classical music and being called that unironically...

The bright side of the rainbow

A new applied theatre production puts a positive spin on matters of LGBTHQIA+ identity and stigma.There’s a new play in town curiously titled Even Mists Have Silver Linings. The reference here is to the ‘misty’ zone of LGBTHQIA+ (where the ‘H’ stands for HIV+ people) issues. Legal but misunderstood, partly accepted and partly ostracised, theconstantly battles stigmas and questions around identity. But this isn’t about playing victim. This is about finding the brightness, the silver lining.

Can religion fight climate change?

Religious orders and leaders are increasingly using faith to spread the message of climate change and environmentalism The first week of February is celebrated as World Interfaith Harmony Week, when faith leaders from across the world convene to discuss interreligious relationships. It was adopted by the UN in 2010 to foster dialogue and mutual understanding among people of different faiths. While discussions on complex religious subjects have dominated the forum in the last decade, something unusual happened on its 10th anniversary this year. Led by the Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR), global faith leaders spoke about the immediate crisis of climate change that is staring the world in the face.

‘Art And Politics Do Not Exist In Separate Boxes' | Outlook India Magazine

He is getting ready for the launch of his new book on the history of mridangam makers, Sebastian & Sons. He is also getting ready for a concert, while meeting deadlines for columns he writes for various news publications. But that is the manner of T.M. Krishna. The man is sim­ultaneously a leading Carnatic vocalist, a prolific writer and a citizen committed to social justice. He is one artiste who engages deeply not just with art, but its ent­ire ecosystem.
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