Art knows no language and surpasses all boundaries is just a myth. Art and culture are used alternatively by any party to further its interests. It has a language that wholly depends on the idea behind the propaganda. Its boundaries are fast becoming clear. Art is a real badass tool to manufacture any sentiment while feigning absolute naivety.
In the case of conflicts art is more of a state machinery than an independent and unbiased tool. The thin line between art and plain propaganda ceases to exist. It is overpowered by a sense of ideological belonging and hence rendered useless in its objectives. It does not transcend ethnicities but is used in a particular group to enhance their version of story.
In Kashmir particularly, we have seen a lot of manipulation by “artists” of India. Rendering Kashmir merely a place of spectacular beauty with stupid and naïve people and some wild terrorists has been the punchline of the Indian version of art in Kashmir. The concept of colonisation sparks afresh in this version and is quite pronounced in actual renditions of art.
The plain truth about art as propaganda is renewed with each Bollywood movie coming in market. Coming to Bollywood which seems a major art in India, its philosophy vis a vis Kashmir has always been that of an imperial “sahib” that makes it satiable for the naïve Indian masses and sends in signals of false euphoria about Kashmir. This idea of Bollywood is not new or post the militancy. It actually is a phenomenon that erupted way back when Kashmir was “normal”. The intention behind the movies is to deconstruct the Kashmir issue into so many fragments so as it appears a really weak narrative. Even Kashmiris begin to question their stand, that is what I mean by Art as a state machinery.
From catchy titles like “Mission Kashmir”, “Kashmir ki Kali” to “Haider” it has been a long journey for apologists of Indian state to adjust themselves to the changing trends here and show it to malfunctioning audience elsewhere. Kashmiri has travelled from being a naïve help to a ferocious killer.
The pre-militancy Bollywood is being celebrated in some circles of Kashmir as a mark of normal Kashmir. This is ambiguous and self-defeating when the portrayal of a Kashmiri has been so problematic. The essence remains the same in any case, that propagandist artists of India are hell bent to shift the discourse on Kashmir.
Now coming to the art that Kashmir has produced and is producing it has seen a drastic change from romancing in gardens to the beautiful and interesting plays, documentaries, songs and photographs by native artists. This has led to creation a counter propagandist art and deliberated upon the conflict and its impact. The way these artists mostly young work to negate the theorists of state is absolutely infallible. Creating and nourishing these art forms has seen a revivalist trend and is a question beautifully put at occupation of mind palaces.
The point about writing back to the state propaganda has also thrived. This time around one can see history being written by the occupied and demonstrated by natives is something powerful. The trend of owning up the young boys and girls will surely be a significant morale booster to the relentless struggle of Kashmiris.
The point of Kashmiri art is about occupying the space that had been forcefully taken away in guise of tourism promotion. Breaking the jinx of talking about and for Kashmir has seen a record growth past 2010.
The conclusion is artists in Kashmir should more poetically and powerfully deconstruct Indian hegemony and own up struggles in Kashmir. Long live Kashmir.