In Mumbai, Gallery Beyond hosted it. “I had no idea I will have reconnect with the gallery and gallerist under these circumstances. By the time it came to Mumbai The Wall of Solidarity had grown to 118 canvases. The show got a huge response from both the man on the street and celebrities.”

Salman Ansari
dna
A month-long exhibition which went up with the Kashish Mumbai Queer International Film Festival (KMQIFF) 2015, has started a war of words in the art world. Being organised in association with Gallery Beyond, the month-long art show named The 377191 Wall exhibition has seen 238 artists come together to express solidarity with the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to choose whom to love. Now Myna Mukherjee, a cultural curator with over 15 years of experience in the field of arts and human rights with a special focus on gender and sexuality, has charged Gallery Beyond owner Vibhuraj Kapoor with stealing her idea. The Delhi-based curator who runs an arts organisation called Engendered and has spent several years in New York, says the idea for The 377191 Wall is a copy of her own art intervention show named RESIST. “In Jan 2013 we started an art intervention show called RESIST in response to rising gender-based violence. This included an open call to all artists to contribute to a ‘Wall of Solidarity’ on a 1×1 foot canvas demonstrating conscience and dissent against gender violence and gender injustice.” RESIST was a popular show, with names like Anjolie Ela Menon, Mithu Sen, Arpana Caur, Irrana and several others. The show went to Chennai and Mumbai.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In Mumbai, Gallery Beyond hosted it. “I had no idea I will have reconnect with the gallery and gallerist under these circumstances. By the time it came to Mumbai The Wall of Solidarity had grown to 118 canvases. The show got a huge response from both the man on the street and celebrities.” After Mumbai RESIST was retired but the Wall stayed and was shown in different venues, clubs, colleges, and most recently at the American Embassy for over a month in Dec-Jan 2015. “Following the coverage, Vibhu (Vibhuraj Kapoor) from Gallery Beyond wrote to me asking me if we’d want to recreate the wall for the Kashish Film Festival. I had other commitments and I declined but also left room to perhaps do something next year. I also reminded him that The Wall and specially the open call format of 1×1 was Engendered property,” Myna told dna and added, “His response was ‘Ki farak painda hai’.” She shared with dna the mails from Kapoor to this effect. Myna says she then heard that Gallery Beyond had sent out a call for works that she terms an appropriation of her call. “Many artists were confused and thought it was the same wall that was travelling back to Gallery Beyond. Some found out in the nick of time and wrote messages declining to participate. I was busy with two other shows in Delhi and only found out that they went ahead with the exact same idea and format without any major changes.” Myna saw the invite on May 20th, and sent a legal notice to Gallery Beyond on May 21st. “The vacation judge has admitted the petition and we hope for a hearing on June 5th. Despite the notice the Gallery Beyond has brazenly not done anything to show that this is not their original idea. Misleading the world of artists/activists and the general public into believing that The Wall was conceived and curated by Vibhuraj Kapoor is so wrong. I am still reeling in shock and disappointment.” The KMQIFF director tried to downplay the controversy, saying that there can be no restriction on getting artists together for a cause or the format in which they present their work. Gallerist Vibhuraj Kapoor told dna, “Now that Myna has made the matter sub-judice how can I comment? We have great respect for the judicial system and are confident that it will emerge we are not in the wrong.” Meanwhile artists who were part of both RESIST and The Wall are wary of taking sides. Artist Brinda Miller told dna, “As an artist I’m not privy to what the understanding between Myna or Vibhu is. All I’m interested in is either my money if my works are sold or for my works to be returned.”

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