A plastic cow, suspended by a balloon mid-air as a part of an art installation at the Jaipur Art Summit, was brought down after police intervention on Saturday while the artists were interrogated.
The installation Bovine Divine was created by Siddhartha Kararwal and showcases a cow made of Styrofoam suspended by a balloon. Kararwal is participating in the Jaipur Art Summit through an International Artists’ Residency hosted by Sandarbh, a public art initiative based in Partapur and Delhi. Artists Anish Ahluwalia and Chitan Upadhyay were taken to the police station after they protested against the move to bring down the cow down, a report in the Indian Express said . No FIR has been registered yet.
The Summit, which saw a participation from 12 countries, is being held at the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur. The incident comes days after the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government withdrew the nomination of noted British sculptor Anish Kapoor, who is a known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the governing council of the Jawahar Kala Kendra.
The artists have said that the installation was intended to portray how a cow suffers when it consumes plastic. The cow was garlanded and worshipped by protestors before the installation was dismantled and eventually seized by police, the report added.
“The message of the installation was harmony between humans and environment. Cows often scavenge for food and end up consuming plastic from the garbage, eventually dying from it. We had read about 10-15 kg of plastic being found in the stomach of deceased cows,” Ahluwalia was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
Upadhyay took to Facebook and wrote, “Meanwhile, the cops recommended that if artists want to raise awareness about social concerns they can write essays and make paintings. 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.”
An organiser of the event, Vidya Sagar, was quoted as saying that police were the first to approach him when the show was about to begin and said that many people have complained about the installation that portrayed “our cow inappropriately”.
Sagar added that a dozen of protestors came later.
“We had removed the installation and kept it in a store. Yet some members of an unidentified organisation arrived at Jawahar Kala Kendra, pulled it out of the room, and worshipped the cow and garlanded it,” Sagar said, adding that they were chanting “Gai humari mata hai” and “Gau mata zindabad”.
A senior police officer, SHO of the Bajaj Nagar Police Station Mahendra Gupta,was quoted in the report as saying, “The message through the installation was unclear. So when the police control room started getting calls, we reached the site and later brought the artists to the police station for questioning.”