Let’s Talk: On the Life and Likeness of Gandhi

Kochi Biennale Foundation will host discussion on the iconography around the Mahatma 

Kochi, July 12: A riveting conversation on the imagery, ideas and ideals ascribed to Mahatma Gandhi is on the cards at an evening discussion between distinguished cultural theorist and political psychologist Ashis Nandy and eminent historian Vinay Lal.

Titled ‘Gandhi and the Politics of the Image’, the conversation – the latest in the Kochi Biennale Foundation’s (KBF) popular ‘Let’s Talk’ seminar series – will take place at BTH, Ernakulam, on Thursday, July 14, from 6 pm on.

Before the discussion, Professor Lal – who has written widely on the architecture of nonviolence and its chief practitioner – will first examine the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi in the light of various forms of visual representation and suggest what kind of insights a contemporary student of Gandhi might be able to derive from a study of these images.

“There is but no question that Mohandas Gandhi remains, close to seven decades after his assassination, the most iconic figure of modern India. A distinct and complex iconography had begun to develop around his figure in his own lifetime,” he said.

“He was one of the most widely photographed men of his time. An entire industry of nationalist prints extolled his life; statues of his abound throughout India and, increasingly, the rest of the world.  Gandhi has been a blessing to cartoonists and a perennial subject for Indian artists,” he added.

After offering an overview of the visual practices that have informed representations of the Mahatma, the talk will move toward a more extended analysis of ‘the sartorial Gandhi’ and the ‘martyred Gandhi’.

The conversation between Nandy and Prof. Lal will follow the presentation. After, the discussion will be opened to the audience for questions.

 “Mahatma Gandhi, both as figure and image, possesses indelible potency of meaning. His significance and that of his personage has been instrumentalised in posterity by the weight of ideas, seeking either to embellish or erode memory,” said KBF Secretary Riyas Komu, who will be present at the talk.

The event is hosted by the KBF with the support of the Backwaters Collective – a prominent academic community of which both Nandy and Prof. Lal are members – and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art.

The KBF will be collaborating with the Backwaters Collective on its annual conference on metaphysics and politics, the sixth edition of which gets underway on Friday, July 15, at the Le Meridien in Kochi.

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