Ditch the bio, for, art is in the details

This isn’t just a case of privacy matters. Knowledge of this nature, unknowingly affects the perception and understanding of the artwork.

Published: 21st May 2022 10:19 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st May 2022 10:19 AM   |  A+A-

It matters not if you leave your wallet behind when you step out. Never mind the ego too, it can wait for your return. But don’t even dream of going anywhere without your proof of identity. The life-saving document that proclaims who you are. Aadhaar, Driving Licence, Ration Card, Pan Card — they come in a multitude of forms. Mind you, it is mandatory to flash this to anyone and everyone who demands it, even if it’s only to park your car. If, by any chance, your enrolment for the weight loss programme has left you looking like the distant relative of the person on your ID card, then prepare yourself to discuss your gruelling months of exercise and diet, with all those who doubt the genuineness of your new avatar. 

If that’s not enough, there are the countless forms to be eternally filled up at every counter in life, until not a single mole on your body or a cough from fifth grade, remains private information anymore. And then there are those who voluntarily choose to live life publicly. Their social media posts of every crumb eaten and every thought thought, leave little to the imagination. 

We artists have it tougher. Step into any art show and look around. You will be confronted with texts placed next to each artwork. The title of the work, the medium used (whether wood or oil paints), the concept note or what went through the artists mind during the process of creation, are all necessary details that most often, helps the viewer in getting a clearer picture. There is however, another accompanying text that almost reads like a horoscope. Starting from the specific date and place of the artist’s birth, leading to the academic qualifications or the lack of it, the exhibitions, awards, art camps and all that could pass off as accomplishments or milestones, and finally ending with where the artist can be found existing and working currently…it is all out there to be seen by the world. 

This isn’t just a case of privacy matters. Knowledge of this nature, unknowingly affects the perception and understanding of the artwork. You may be forced to take back your initial reaction of disgust on seeing a piece of art, after being made aware of the artists age or gender and other such paraphernalia. Or perhaps you may rethink your effusive praise of another, once you read up the part about the artist’s meagre list of achievements or the number of years lived on this planet. No fault can be ascribed to the audience, as we have all been conditioned to form opinions based on certain facts provided. 

While art marches forward, trying to break free from all definitions and categorisations in an attempt to speak a new language, such biodata negates that effort unconsciously. A mere skeleton of these elaborate resumes would suffice for the general public. It’s time to shed the baggage of the artist’s history on print and let the art shine brightly on its own laurels!

Jitha Karthikeyan


(Jitha Karthikeyan is an artist and curator, passionate about making art accessible to the larger public)


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