[Reader-list] Reconstructing Taslima: Response to Shuddhabrata

Anjalika Sagar anjalisaga at blueyonder.co.uk
Fri Aug 17 20:28:18 IST 2007

Dear Shuddha,

I will respond to these points later on - as I am sick right now and 
don't have the energy.

In brief, and quite sincerely - thanks for your thorough response and 
the openness with which you have written this.

Let me just say this very quickly. I am constantly surprised, rarely 
challenged , annoyingly amused , and in some cases shocked by the way 
that the many Western curators  speak of their experiences of meeting 
Indian thinkers such as yourself - as if  individuals such as yourself 
or  groups such as Sarai or Raqs are the ONLY ones  who have anything to 
say . So I agree with you - they do have an overly conflated idea of 
their own self importance - as if they have discovered you all !!. 
However glad I am that they are challenged by the likes of you ( and 
that they are not just banging on about bloody Bollywood - although now 
it is ' the Indian Art scene' and again their knowledge is limited) - 
they are constantly a loss and lazy to boot when in comes to other 
complex cultural paradigms such as the South Asian sub-continent..

I have  seen the same thing happen with the Middle East - where lazy 
curators in the West  just want the easy option and only meet- on their 
two week British Council sponsored trips, those people who are easily 
translatable to their context... On hearing curators speak of their 
experiences in India - with wide eyes they will  talk about landing in 
Delhi , and in amazed tones they say  " we were met on time by" .... /in 
many / nearly all cases you and your friends../..and then they are 
amazed by how smart you all are - as if they are scared that when they 
arrive they will be eaten by crocodiles and then they are relieved to 
find out that the crocs can speak English ...!! Sorry but this attitude 
I find really irritating and lazy.  In relation to this  I am sure you 
understand the psychology here - You maybe surprised to know that 'the 
Western cultural discourse led circles' so as not to be specific - get 
off on seeing India in terms of crisis - I do not support the India 
Shining representation at all  - but you must recognize that they seem 
to have an addiction to exotic traumas and are not interested in their 
own backyard at all.

Also I am confused - why do you limit us to British Artists ..when you 
yourself with abandon say

'I refuse on ethical, 
philosophical and political grounds to play the game of representing any 
'category' that can be read off the bare facts of gender, sexuality, 
race, ethnicity or nationality'

Do you not think we think in the same way - that we also strive to be 
seen as simply normal not carrying the burden of representation ..... I 
would say that for us however it is not quite as simple as abandoning a 
position - one has to constantly struggle against racism and limited 
understanding - that is not playing a game Shuddha , that is the 
constant struggle  the likes of us and many newer immigrants are faced 
with on a daily basis. I work in the art world and it is a racist world 
- we have to deal with institutional racism - we cannot abandon that 
struggle - one has a responsibility to challenge it . It is not as bad 
as in Europe  - where one has to deal with ignorance of a kind that can 
become intolerable.

To close - please do not refer to me or The Otolith Group as home grown 
spin doctors - we are in some ways fighting the same problems as you are 
- but we have no power.

Bests Anj

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