City Culture – De Bhasar, Tolstoy Marg
The philosophy of nonsense.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Gadhe ke poot, yahan mat poot.
[O, son of an ass, do not pee here.]
The Delhi Walla saw this calligraphy by an unknown Bhasarian artist in Tolstoy Marg, a road in Central Delhi named after the author of Russian classics Anna Karenina and War and Peace. It is depicted on a red brick wall.
This is the seventh 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.
Commenting on the message on the wall, Kishore Singh, head of publication and exhibition at the Delhi Art Gallery (DAG) in Hauz Khas Village that recently exhibited a collection of Hindu religious paintings enigmatically titled The Naked and the Nude, said: “It reminds me of Picasso’s Le Rêve. While the Spanish master often painted his wife as a frightening, sharply angular monster, here his young mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter embodies feminine sensuality in her organic curves and displays a look of concentrated pleasure on her face as she masturbates. In fact, many critics have repeatedly explained that there is an erect penis painted into the nose of Marie-Thérèse, to symbolize Picasso’s own, or perhaps of Lord Shiva’s. However, talking of this De Bhasar exhibit, a typical right-winger Hindu extremist will, of course, confuse the Devnagri scrawl with micturition, but to a left-leaning Israel-hating liberal, this lettering resonates with the hidden turmoil that is enclosed within a modestly-dimensioned male sexual organ.”
Speaking on phone from his apartment in Bronx, New York City, Adam Ensler, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright and author of The Penis Monologues, which has been published in 54 languages and performed in over 160 countries, said, “You cannot confine art to surreal interpretations. I see this Hindi-language inscription as an audacious and absurd attempt to exercise control on our bodies and bladders, on our possibilities and wild creativity. Indeed, urinating openly on the streets is akin to speaking back to governments and international elites. It is about calling out racism and colonialism and feminism and Zionism. It is about developing trust and partnerships with male allies. It is about turning shame to strength to power. Let a billion men pee. Nothing less will suffice for the people, for the men, for the women, for the children of Congo.”
De Bhasar in Delhi