Published: 02nd December 2020
These artists have come together to remind Indians of their true values like justice to farmers and racial equality
Based on the ideologies of a German non-violence resistance from 1942, the White Rose Movement is targetted at crimes against people, the environment and much more
In 1942, three medical students from the University of Munich joined hands with three others to set off one of the only non-violent movements against the Nazi regime: The White Rose. Using German literature and spiritual ideologies, they worked by distributing ‘Leaflets of the Resistance’ among the German people. On February 23, the very next year, the group was killed by Hitler’s regime.
“Although the White Rose Movement ended there, people around the world took notice,” says Satyapal TA, Former Secretary and Chairman of the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi, “Many movements against hate sprouted after this because of what they did so many years ago. In India too, a familiar environment has been setting in. We have been exhibiting symptoms of fascism. And in times like these, such peaceful thoughts and actions are necessary to change people and the way they think.”
To this end, Satyapal recreated the White Rose Movement in India along with 16 other painters, sculptors, advocates, activists and others across all walks of life. A space where artists and thinkers are free to express themselves, the German movement’s Indian counterpart was set up in 2019. The main concept behind it was to use a visual language to address issues of social justice, the environment and equality.
The first exhibition held by the group was called 'Black Rainbow', as a response to the death of George Floyd. Around seven exhibitions have been organised by the group since its inception, with artists from every corner of the country contributing with their work. Due to the pandemic, they are now holding all the exhibitions online. In addition to the artwork and literature, they also organise readings from the Ramayana, to remind the Indian audience of their true values.
When White Rose holds an exhibition, they begin by explaining the history of the movement and why they have embarked on the mission. And like the revolutionaries before them, they have been igniting the young community that witnesses the sessions. Their most recent exhibition ‘For The Kisans’ was held in October against the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Draft which has the potential to weaken environment protection policies in the country. Over 321 artists contributed to it.
Satyapal explains, “Farmers are the backbone of this nation and its people. When a Bill is introduced by the government that actively harms them, our response to it resonates with every type of audience present because we can all understand why it is wrong to do so. In fact, when our intentions are pure, people who might not even know us seek out our contact numbers and ring in, requesting to be a part of this.”
On August 6 and 9, the days which commemorate the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, White Rose held an exhibition titled 'Sky Blue and Blue Sky' to remember the tragedy. Other major shows include 'Green Dreams' and 'Spectres of Mahatma', all aiming to bring attention to the age-old values of equality and truth. In the first week of December, the group conducted an exhibition about the native art of India, presenting the local culture and traditions across tribal communities in the country.
On December 25, White Rose hopes to bid goodbye to a difficult year with 'Love Thy Neighbour'. “While minorities grow more sidelined and ignored in the country, we want to remind everyone that you need to love your neighbour whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Dalit or Christian. The exhibition is our way of reminding us who we are and have always been,” concludes Satyapal.