Sunday, October 5, 2008
Fail Not Our Feast
I don’t know why I think about Macbeth in this early morning. It is just 3.30 am. My sleep is over. I want to sleep more but some apparitions move around me. I try to capture images from the shadows that fall on the wall through the window. One of the moving images obviously looks like Lady Macbeth, who facilitated the death of King Duncan. She has killed the innocent sleep so she would never sleep proper. Her hands are contaminated by the innocent blood of King Duncan. No perfume could wash the smell of it so she keeps on washing her hands. Blood calls out for revenge, even while drying up on the earth. Oh…I have killed so many people’s innocent sleep, hence I would never have a peaceful sleep. Now I know why I remember Macbeth in this early morning and why I look like the painting of Fuseli or Redon.
My family members don’t like me that much as I disturb their sleep by my early morning movements. The gurgling sound of washbasin pipe, the flushing of toilet, the clanging of kitchen utensils, the switching on of lights and everything that I do disturb their innocent sleep. Their nights don’t have any history. Their dreams are all very colorful and soothing. They can sleep like contemporary art, sans history and sans memory. Contemporary art is contemporary because it does not carry a historical baggage, it does not carry too many memories. It is an open receptacle and the passing time could fill in it with meanings, memories and histories. One day contemporary art too would become the art of the past, full of memories and full of histories. Then it would cease to be called contemporary art, or even if it is called contemporary art, then the term would be suggesting, not a movement, but a school, which has already become redundant, dead and gone. Contemporary art is like innocent sleep, because innocent sleep also gains memory and history in retrospection, in its intense present tense, it simply does not exist.
Sleep exists for those people who do not sleep. For Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, sleep exists because they are not able to sleep. Contemporary art exists for those people who are aware of history and memory and for those people who do not have anything to do with history or memory, contemporary art does not exist. They like contemporary art because it does not come with a baggage. So they buy it, sell it and forget it. They don’t have any problem to reduce the meaning of contemporary art into names and mathematical data. But for those people, who don’t sleep, who have killed the innocent sleep and have blood on their hands, contemporary art is all about meaning. They look at the sleeping face of contemporary art, and find it so empty and innocent. It is just there like a moment between dream and death. The subtle movements on its body could be interpreted into a sea. Yes, because only those people who do not sleep understand the value of it. Suddenly you feel like smothering it with your knowledge, your cruelty and your arrogance, exactly the same way Othello smothers Desdemona. You love it too much and you don’t want it to exist.
I am a somnambulist, when I walk through the galleries. I am a plotting count, when I think about art. I am a scheming warrior, when I see a work of art. I am an aggressive frontline fighter when I write about art. But I am like a superstitious listener when I hear the oracles of market predicting the future of Indian contemporary art. They remind me the notorious witches of Macbeth. They predict, or they want me to listen their predictions, that I am going to be the chosen on. Someone is going to lose it, someone is going to gain it and I am going to be that ‘gifted’ on to facilitate all these. I want these witches to explain their prophesies but I am not able to do that as I have become so superstitious about the role that they have assigned to me. I start imagining things. I don’t want to become the king. I don’t want to kill my brother and companion. I don’t want to kill my mentor. I don’t want to kill so many young things who work towards their futures. By believing in the predictions of the nether land, I have become so cruel. I kill innocent sleep every day and every night. I don’t feel being together. With the sword drawn from its sheath, I walk like a possessed one, amongst the contemporary works of art, looking for my innocent victims. You may have to gather all your forces to push me down for I feel I am the mightiest. I give you parties and before you reacht there, I get you killed on the way itself. But I am afraid of your apparition as I have told you yesterday, before leaving, ‘Fail not Our Feast’.