'Hanging Cow' At Jaipur Art Summit Triggers Protest, Leads To Arrest

22/11/2015 10:59 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
Chintan Upadhyay/Facebook

NEW DELHI--Until now, slaughtering a cow was illegal in some states in the country. However, it seems even art installations that has got anything to do with cows may get you in trouble.

On day one of the Jaipur Art Summit at Jawahar Kala Kendra held on Saturday, two artists Anish Ahluwalia and Chitan Upadhyay were taken to the police station after they protested against the move to bring down art installation which depicted a cow.

The installation art work 'The Bovine Divine', depicting a cow made of Styrofoam suspended by a balloon, which was, ironically, put up to depict the message to save cow from the menace of plastic waste was brought down, worshipped and garlanded by a group of protesters, before the installation was dismantled and eventually seized by police.


In an effort to draw attention to the plight of abandoned animals who end up scavenging, eating plastic and choking to death-- Baroda-based artist Siddharth Karwal had conceptualized this art installation. Supported by a balloon, a life-size styrofom plastic cow was floated at a height of nearly 100 feet just before the official inauguration of the summit, held at Jawahar Kala Kendra.

Even before the show formally opened, members of Jaipur police reached the venue at about 10 am. They reportedly asked the installation to be brought down based on a complaint they received by 'somebody'.

The Jaipur police said that a "life size cow hanging in air is offensive to their sensibilities."

In a Facebook post, Chitan Upadhyay, who was taken to the police station after he protested against the police action said that he along with Anish Ahluwalia were threatened and detained by the cops for over 3 hours. They were released after the intervention of senior artists and organizers of the Jaipur Art Summit.

"A key issue that seemed to bother them was 'why fly a dead cow'… When we explained that the cow is not dead, we were asked if it was alive, we tried to explain that it was styrofom plastic sculpture but were pretty much unsuccessful," Upadhyay writes in his FB post.

Please Share-Dear allThis is to share the unfortunate events of this morning at Jaipur Art Summit, Shilpagram,...

Posted by Chintan Upadhyay on Saturday, 21 November 2015

Suraj Soni, an activist, who protested against the art installation said that they won't 'tolerate' this. "What (do) they want to prove with a hanging dummy of a cow? I think cow is highly respected and we won't tolerate this kind of thing. We had brought the matter to the notice of the police," he said.

While the artistes said they only wanted to show what plastic does to cows, police had a different opinion. Bajaj Nagar Police Station SHO Mahendra Gupta told Indian Express, "The way the cow was hanging in the air...it was only sending a negative message.”

"The intention of the artist was to give a clear and loud message that people should not throw plastic or other garbage as it proves fatal and poisonous to the animals. In a way, this creation was also there to save cow and other animals but it was taken in a wrong direction," S K Bhatt, founder director of the summit told ToI.

The summit which is hosting artistes from 12 countries, where about 260 works are to be displayed over the course of five days is no stranger to controversy.

Last year, people were angry over a drawing of Lord Ganesha on a toilet pot. Several social and religious organisations had vandalised the venue in protest, saying the drawing hurt religious sentiments of the masses.

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