Visual artist Akshita Chandra is a student at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bengaluru. In her seventh semester at the institute, she had to submit a project based on any historical event.
Chandra wanted to do something that went beyond the purely historical. As she explained to HuffPost India, “I wanted to make it relevant, drawing parallels from a historic context, and find its relevance in our contemporary world.”
One issue that had been on Chandra's mind for sometime was that of moral policing.
“I remember reading about how in 1979, F.N. Souza’s hand-written manuscript of his autobiography and 62 drawings he had sent from the United States to India were held at the customs for being too obscene. Furious, Souza had questioned whether the 'ignorant official' would still be confiscating the illustrations if they were line drawings from the Khajuraho temples," she said. "Having visited the temples myself, this rang true to what I wanted to explore through the project – What really is obscene?”
Chandra's creative response was to draw some of Khajuraho's famous erotic sculptures on paper, but with a twist. As she explains, she got working on “censoring them dynamically, so that the viewer could help censor what was underneath.” She also incorporated elements that referred to contemporary instances of moral policing and censorship in India.
Thanks to Chandra's 'dynamic drawings' and deft paperwork, the viewer gets to play the role of the censor but can also take a peek underneath to see what is being censored. The project took her four months to complete and she very appropriately titled it ‘Being Censitive’.
Her creative comment on the contemporary culture of censorship and moral policing went viral after she posted it on Tumblr. Here are the situations that inspired her sketches:
When 40 couples were taken out of private hotel rooms,booked for public indecency and taken to the police stations.
When lingerie-clad mannequins on display in Mumbai were banned:
When Dinanth Batra, an education activist claimed that sex education had no "space in the improved and ‘Indianised’ education system".
When couples were physically assaulted by the Shiv Sena on Valentine’s day.
The ruling of clothed cleavages being blurred out on 'Romedy Now'.
When section 377 of the IPC criminalised "carnal intercourse against the order of nature".
When the woman wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad marched and protested against the exhition, 'Naked and the Nude' in Delhi.
When several Culture and Human Resource Development ministers pledged to launch a movement to rid the country of 'cultural pollution' as part of their contribution to Swachh Bharat Abhiyan:
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