Monthly Archives: October 2012

In Defense of Shock

What if I take off my clothes, put a wig on and dance with a fire-spouting mechanism latched onto my crotch?

What if I put a dead shark in a tank, fill it with formaldehyde and display it in a gallery?

What if I fill a vessel up with urine, drop a crucifix inside and proclaim it as a work of art?

You will probably be shocked, maybe peeing your pants in the process, and label me as an attention-whore.

Or worse, you may call the police or a mental asylum to drag me away and spare your poor heart from such horror.

There is also a rare possibility of my antics kindling your fascination and pleasing your eyes and Oh-So-Bored-With-This-Routine-World mind.

But will you ever ask WHY you got shocked by seeing my crotch on fire or a crucifix submerged in piss?

Does ANYBODY ever asks why they react the way they do when they see a piece of shock art?

I think they do not.

When Lady GaGa wore the meat dress in the VMAs, my first reaction was of disbelief.

Of course, it was fake meat, right?

Later, when it turned out that it wasn’t, I was utterly disgusted and all I could think to myself was, “This Fucking Rocks!”.

And that’s the magic of shock art — its effect is immediate.

It incites powerful emotional responses; it makes you feel.

But sadly not many people investigate why it makes them feel the way they do.

In my opinion, which was never really humble, shock art shocks us because it dares to probe into our darkest anxieties, fears and desires.

When Lady GaGa wears a meat dress, we are shocked because we are scared of death, and the rotting meat disgusts us.

When Damien Hirst preserves a Tiger Shark in a vitrine and showcases it in a gallery, we are shocked because the shark is dead and yet it seems so alive.

When Andres Serrano takes a picture of a crucifix submerged in his urine, it shocks us because he mixes one of the most sacred symbols of humanity with one of the decidedly profane things of our society.

Shock Art transgresses.

It is disgusting.

It is perverted.

It is the mirror which we never want to see.

And that’s exactly why it is one of the greatest kinds of art in the world.

Shock Art is the slap of truth on the face of the society — it forces us to deal with reality. And maybe even achieve catharsis in the process and get rid of these anxieties and fears.

Thus, Shock Art could very well make our society psychologically healthier.

And in this basic argument lies my defense of the art that shocks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s too hard writing a blog with fire spouting out of my crotch and a dead Tiger Shark staring back at me.



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The Slap


Rickshaw Puller

Today, the rickshaw in which I was returning home, brushed against a speeding bus.
The rickshaw’s right wheel’s tire was pulled out and its steel frame was bent and ruined.

The bus driver, it seemed, didn’t even acknowledge the presence of the poor man and the vehicle which he drove before the accident.
Probably, the driver expected him to disappear before daring to give a dent on his bus.

But he didn’t.

It was probably then that the driver realized that he exists. And he wasn’t happy about it.

After some confusing moments and an echo of someone’s palm hitting somebody’s cheek, I realised that the conductor had slapped the rickshaw driver.

Nobody said anything, there was just the bus conductor’s stream of abuses and the honk of cars stuck behind the bus.

Sensing that things were getting serious, I quitely slipped out and hired another rickshaw to take me home.

After 10 minutes, the bus went away, the rickshaw went away and the traffic moved on. Everything was back to as it was before.

Except for some questions in my head:

Did the conductor have the right to slap the rickshaw driver?

Why didn’t anybody object to it?

Why did I quitely slip away?

Should I have interwened?

Would it have been prudent if I had done so?

Would the conductor dare to touch the man if he was driving a car instead of a rickshaw?

Would the conductor slap the man if he was wearing a suit instead of a torn tshirt?

He would’ve probably used a gun instead…

Or maybe not.

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The Streets


The streets are invisible; only the shadows can be seen.

The sound of my footsteps and the crunching gravel tell me that I walk on ground, otherwise, I can barely see my shoes.

It’s not the same as darkness — darkness is bearable. Darkness is unknown.

Shadows aren’t, and yet this acquaintance increases the distrust.

There are no streetlights, only a faint glow from the nearby houses, mixing with the twilight to create more shadows.

It’s a struggle for my eyes to see my own feet, clad in black converse they go on doing what I want them to do, like a pair of anonymous machines. The walk is like a metaphor for my journey to self discovery — the streets represent my clouded, hidden soul which I have yet to discover fully.

The footpath is laden with dung — dogs, cats, cows and humans — everybody considers the streets as their litter-box. The stench is a strange mixture of the sweet, the pungent and the downright disgusting. And yet, it’s subtle — it dissolves into the background and becomes invisible.

It’s about time that the streets get rid of the shit all over it.

Walking on the streets is a daunting task. It requires experience and dexterity — dodging garbage and poop, with barely any light, is not the job of the faint-hearted.

Some boys are playing cricket in the nearby park. They are teenagers, most of them must be of seventeen, of my age.

Their hoarse laughter increases my heartbeat — something in me senses danger.

That fear of being assaulted — is it okay for a boy to be frightened like this?

The shadows play strange tricks.

I remember the incidents my girlfriends had told me; about being groped and molested.

Why do I think about them now?

Whenever I see a dark figure walking towards me, I clutch my mobile more firmly.

My pace increases as I hear some dogs barking in the distance. I hate dogs.

Some children are giggling a few feet away.

Their giggles sound out of place in the streets. They should go home.

Finally, I see some streetlights.

It’s a small market.People have lined up in the front of the dairy to get their evening quota of milk.

I try to avoid touching them as I walk past the people with steel canisters. The people are filthy.

The frightening part is over. The rest of the path is well-lit.

After buying a bottle of juice from the nearby store, I start to walk again.

Home is not far away.