City Culture – De Bhasar, Oberoi Hotel Flyover
The philosophy of nonsense.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Three heart-shaped outlines.
The Delhi Walla saw these drawings in the Oberoi Hotel flyover. They are depicted on the pillars adjacent to Lodhi Road, which runs through the underside of the flyover.
This is the third instance that I have come face-to-face with De Bhasar movement in Delhi. (Click here to view the first exhibit.)
According to Wikipedia, De Bhasar or Bhasarism is a cultural movement that began in Nantes, France, during the post 9/11 Gulf War, reaching a tipping point between 2007 to 2009. The movement involves graphic designs and literature, which concentrates its anti-sentimental politics by rejecting aesthetic birth-control measures through anti-catholic works. De Bhasar might be regarded as pro-Berlusconi in nature.
“Heart, a vital organ of human anatomy, has been reduced to being a prop for the business prospects of Hollywood,” says Guy Shanaynay Baraka, the American author of over 50 books of essays, poems, and drama. A Trotskyist poet icon, Mr Baraka has lectured on Bhasarism extensively in the Caribbean and Africa. Talking to me on phone from Addis Ababa where he was attending the launch of his new collection of essays, Somebody Please Blow Up the First World, he says, “Art is bullshit unless there are teeth or trees or lemons piled on a step. But that is not even the point. The real question is the dehumanization of people who live under the flyovers of our Third World megacities.”
The flyover, next to two luxury hotels – The Oberoi and Aman – is home to a dozen homeless people.
Mr Baraka is a frequent traveler to the capital. He likes to walk in the boulevards of central Delhi, and search for road-side graffiti inspired from De Bhasar.
“Look at the assertive brush strokes by this anonymous Bhasarian,” says Mr Baraka, referring to sketches on the Oberoi hotel flyover. “In these ‘hearts’ you feel a sense of the bizarre, a sense of the melancholy, a sense of the comic, a sense of the hopelessness of urban poverty. You also see a smile at the bottom of this gloomy world. You know the masks of drama, the actor smiles and the actor frowns? That geography, that aesthetics… that sense of the wonderful, I have always been intrigued by this Bhasarian strain.”
The night is cold. Two men are sitting beside the most prominent De Bhasar illustration in the Oberoi hotel flyover – the one with the cupid’s arrow. Do they know they are in such close proximity to a great art movement of our times?
Despite a creation of the decadent Europe, Bhasarism is showing anti-Brussels sentiments, and the politics of its leading theoreticians is heading for a shift. It is beginning to express sympathy for the proletarian underclass of the global economic slowdown.
“De Bhasar might have originated from the antics of capitalist clowns like Silvio Berlusconi, but it has mutated into a radically different ideology that attacks oppression, exploitation and mediocrity indirectly or directly,” says Mr Baraka. “The Wall Street bankers have destroyed our faith in capitalism. Bhasarism is becoming a natural ally of the present-day Greeks and the homeless.”
Sense of the Oberoi hotel flyover
De Bhasar in Delhi