City Culture – De Bhasar, Barakhamba Road
The philosophy of nonsense.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The image of a dark-skinned barber’s modest salon (complete with towels and a mirror) is imposed on a patchwork of hundreds of snapshots of street vendors and homeless people.
The Delhi Walla saw this graphic on Barakhamba Road. It is depicted on the boundary wall of an empty highrise.
This is the sixth 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.
“Being a postpremodern artist, this anonymous De Bhasar illustrator refuses to shrink before the tenuousness of authoritarian control that in India and Mexico at least is fast slipping towards a crony capitalist orientation,” says Peter Marcuse, professor emeritus of Urban Planning at Columbia University in New York City. He talked to me on Skype. “See carefully the fragility of pattern on this design as it dissolves into irregularity. Don’t you sense the revelation of some hidden organization in the array of these random photos, some more profound intention within the welter of chaos of decreative force? Any De Bhasar theorist will tell you that by extolling the complementarities of the two forms, the artist is hinting at the existence of a disorderly order.”
Confining his observations to the exhibit’s symbolic representation of street vendors and the homeless, Delhi-based activist Gautam Bhan, author of the 3877-page-volume Urban Mismanagements and the Non-Rights of the Homeless Individual to the City in India, says, “The large metropolitan cities, in their aspiration to modernity, tend to be increasingly anti-poor and anti-migrant and Delhi is no exception. By attempting to convey the extent of the humane catastrophe behind this predicament, the De Bhasar display is proposing means to develop concrete plans for executing what can be accomplished immediately, although with a view to trace and knock out the roots of the crisis, so that planning is not reduced to merely criticizing but also becomes a means for proposing amendments in the policies of institutions such as the Delhi Development Authority, the Gymkhana Club and the Khan Market Car Park Society. I will go on to declare that this is that elevated form of artistic endeavor that demands instant anarchical retribution, for, of course, we all know that the true Art involves proposals for dramatic action towards implementing the rights of the unprivileged masses.”
De Bhasar in Delhi