Salt of the Earth

Artists retrace Gandhi’s route to Dandi which culminates in an exhibition in Delhi to mark the 73rd anniversary of the march.

Published:April 8, 2013 12:44 am

Artist Gigi Scaria subverts the shutterbug-friendly site of the Dandi March sculpture or the Gyaara Murti (11 statues) in a photograph where the 10 followers appear to walk in the opposite direction while Gandhi looks ahead. Called Who deviated first?,this is one of the many interpretations of the Mahatma’s relevance in society today.

Over four years ago,20 contemporary Indian artists travelled the same route that Gandhi took on March 12,1930 when he left Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to lead the Salt Satyagraha. These artists retraced his journey along the western coast of Gujarat to reach Dandi,where Gandhi defied the British Salt Law. The works which the artists created during their journey are being showcased at the exhibition “Freedom to March: Rediscovering Gandhi through Dandi” at Ojas Art in Delhi. The exhibition marks the 73rd anniversary of the Dandi March with over 40 works by 22 artists,including KS Radhakrishnan,Atul Dodiya,Prasad Raghavan and Rameshwar Broota.

Broota’s photographs titled I can’t give you fruit but I can give you salt I and II show closeups and long shots of a salt field in Dandi that appears cracked and barren. “One can live without fruit,but not without salt. Gandhi’s path is difficult,not an easy one to follow,” says Anubhav Nath,co-curator of the exhibition.

Manjunath Kamath’s untitled work of digital print on paper shows Gandhi in different commercial settings. He is seated at a dining table with the three monkeys and in another photo is surrounded by clothes,in what seems to be a fashion boutique. The artist,known for his satire,has used old archival photographs of Gandhi for a photo montage.

Delhi-based artist Vicky Roy’s photograph Is He within you? shows the reflection of a visitor looking into a cut-out image of Gandhi. “At a museum,I’d seen this cut out of a seated Gandhi with many scratches on it. It shows we don’t respect him anymore,” says the 25-year-old photographer. Talking about his experience during the trip,Roy says,“ I had only read about the Sabarmati Ashram in school. There were letters he had written and old photographs,too. I wanted to click a photograph which I had not seen before.”

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