BENGALURU: In Bengaluru, flex banners were often a sight through crawling jams. Capturing them, artist Ravikumar Kashi is attempting to decode the language of these banners through his book Flexing Muscles. The 145-pager includes photos of flexes taken by the artist, and his interpretations of them.
“Between ‘04 and 07, I noticed the content, format and medium of political flexes and took photographs. My book discusses the connection between the language used by artists and that used in flex banners,” says Kashi, whose second book Kannele (Akshara Prakashana, 2012) won the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award.
About his third book, which brings together an essay in English and Kannada, Kashi says, “These banners represent the number of senes (armies) that have been surfacing in the state, in the name of language and caste. Around 2014, the number of flexes on streets suddenly increased, and most of them were put up by senes as opposed to associations previously.
The word sene suggests a crisis, indicating that somebody is attacking someone else.” He adds that these groups add images of lions to their flexes, and also portray the hierarchy of power within a region or among the group and patriarchy.
He named his book Flexing Muscles due to emphasis on the “aggressive tendency” coming through banners. “During the IT boom, many people migrated to the city. The book discusses how this changed the perception of the locals who felt left out and how that is shaping a sense of anxiety and vulnerability.
This has become part of the language of flex banners too,” he says, adding that instead of rejecting these as a pollutant, they must be a dialogue initiator. “If you reject them, people will become more aggressive,” he adds. The book will be launched at Indian Institute of World Culture, Basavanagudi, on Sept 13, 6 pm
proposal to ban flexes
The Karnataka High Court ordered ban on unauthorised flex and banners for a year in 2018. Since the proposed one year is over, BBMP wants to ban the usage of flexes completely. The corporation is waiting for approval from state govt and Urban Development Department.