Saturday 12 September 2015

Poster-Art and Political Activism in JNU, Delhi

Posters in JNU

Artistic, eye-catching and thought-provoking political posters are an intrinsic part of the culture of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Whether it is Marxism or Gandhiism, Women’s Rights or Dalit Rights, Imperialism or Casteism, the student community in JNU has always been politically active and views are expressed through huge, colourful posters with interesting slogans. “Study and Struggle” is one of the oldest slogans that still reverberates through the hostels, schools and streets of JNU. It epitomises the spirit of studies that are not divorced from society and its problems. The posters make you think, they create awareness and above all, they reflect an intellectual spirit, which should be the aim of any university.

Picasso in JNU!

For obvious reasons, there have been a lot of posters lately on women’s emancipation. Here is one such poster, pasted on the wall of School of Arts and Aesthetics which draws on the famous painting by Pablo Picasso Le Bordel d’ Avignon (The Brothel of Avignon, 1907). It depicts five nude prostitutes in a group, looking not defeated but confrontational, as if they were ready to take on the society. Picasso’s painting caused a scandal in turn-of-the-century Europe and he had to hide it in his studio for more than a decade. The painting is, as I see it, a metaphor for women with courage. JNU has healthy gender relations compared to rest of India. Girl students can roam around in the campus late at night. This is unthinkable in any other university of India.

Anti-establishment posters in JNU

This poster caricatures State sponsored censorship in Indian Cinema. On the left, the poster lampoons the statement of the Chief of the ICHR in praise of the Caste System in India.

Che in JNU!

Che Guevara, the face of Cuban Revolution, now appropriated by T-Shirt grafittis because of his handsome looks, is a favourite with some left-leaning political parties in JNU.

Poster-art at JNU

The poster above criticizes Caste System with the mythical story of the low-caste Eklavya, who gave his thumb to the high caste Guru in the epic Mahabharat. The poster below it makes fun of the contemporary Central Government in India.

I was not politically aligned to any party in JNU during my student days but the posters always ignited a thought process.

Also read:
Travelling through Alma Mater, JNU

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