Basharat Bashir

Artists being ridiculed in the centre of the city

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In what could be termed as a ‘gross ridicule’ to the entire art young art fraternity, the R&B department, Srinagar (landscaping division, Kashmir) recently advertised for beautification of the flyover, from Jehangir Chowk to Rambagh by 3D paintings. Ironically, the advertisement sought proposals from consultancies rather than art groups of individual artists. Besides, the parameters including the specific prior experience and budgets that were made mandatory for consultancies for applying for the project were so preposterous for general artists and seemed to have been inserted into the advertisement precisely to suit some blue eyed people.

It is ironic how such projects which are significantly art based are being awarded to people who are least concerned with the field and the only qualification they have is probably the repo with the Babu’s sitting in their cozy chambers.

It is pertinent to mention that, an artist who lives and works in Kashmir has only a few options at hand in the absence of any job opportunities. Moreover,  our schools and colleges do not have art in the curriculum, and if an artist wants to sell work he/she struggles to find a buyer as people here are less conscious about art and the government is equally lenient regarding the plight of the artists who have invested years in higher studies and gaining experience in the field. In such conditions were artists who exhibit both skill and creativity find it hard to earn themselves a better living, work like the one mentioned above could actually mean a huge break for young artists who can convert the opportunity into a means of not only survival but also a step ahead.

If there is a government project for beautification with mural painting who is the first to be considered? Anyone can answer this question however the department seems to have other plans and one wonders how and why there are no checks and balances by the higher ups.

The tender in discussion, is a classic example of red tapism and favouratism which anyone reading the text of the notice can realize. It is a crafty work to keep the artists away and award the project to someone either known to the officials concerned or has been able to broker a deal.

The discouraging scenario therefore continues for the local artists of Kashmir and if the state government does not consider this incident as an eye opener and intervene, there can be no remedy for the faulty procedures that are crafted to suit personal friends, friends of friends or those who bribe and do cheap work thus destroying the very essence of art work and the concept behind the venture.

Most of the artists who had approached the office were neglected on one pretext and were distanced away from a project which cannot be executed by any consultancy at all. Now that the work has been awarded to some unknown group, some contractor, who has hired some unprofessional, unqualified and incompetent people who lack basic understanding of mural painting and therefore do not deserve the work. One can easily see this unfolding on the pillars of the flyover near Jehangir Chowk.

Most of the artists that spoke with this writer were of the opinion that the government must intervene and see, for itself, as to what is being done to the young art fraternity by sidelining them and awarding art based projects to contractors.


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