City Culture – De Bhasar, Aurobindo Marg
The philosophy of nonsense.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
‘Israel we hate you.’
The Delhi Walla saw this calligraphy by an unknown Bhasarian artist in Aurobindo Marg, a road in south Delhi. It is depicted on the boundary wall of Hauz Khas Apartments.
This is the fifth 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.
“This is a clear case of anti-Semitism,” says Tuvia Tenenbom, artistic director of the Jewish Theater of New York and the author of I Sleep in Hitler’s Room: An American Jew Visits Germany. “Anti-Semitism takes root when people substitute fearful fantasies for what they can’t nail down about Jewish identity,” he says on e-mail. “For this reason, artists, with their often fervid and disturbing imaginations, sometimes show the severest expressions of anti-Semitism. The exhibit from Delhi is one such example.”
Since its creation in 1948, Israel, the world’s only Jewish-majority country, is absorbed in an existential conflict with its Arab neighbours, most of whom have never recognized its right to exist. Israel presently controls territories in the Middle East that were to be the state of Palestine.
“It is permissible to hate Israeli government’s illegal occupation of Palestine. It is also permissible to hate Israel’s discrimination against its Arab citizens. But no sensible person can hate the Israeli people,” says Arab poet Fadwa Atrash, whose new poetry collection, Unfortunately, You Are Not Allowed To Feel At Home (translated into English by Iranian novelist Sadgeh Motazedi), is set to release this fall.
A resident of Gaza, Ms Atrash has a reputation of being extremely critical of the policies of Israeli government – her first book had a foreword by the late Edward Said, the Jerusalem-born American intellectual known for his advocacy of Palestine.
“The fact that the Indian state has killed thousands of innocent women and men in Kashmir should not make us hate India,” says Ms Atrash. “If we Arabs want peace in our lifetime, our governments should start by recognizing Israel as a sovereign nation. We cannot afford to hate Israel. The message from New Delhi does not help. It is deeply troubling.”