Thursday, July 9, 2015

Dark & Lovely

The Kareena Kapoor sculpture commercial is viral by now. Over a million views across Lakme's social networking platforms. Before it was made, we agreed on the look of the output. It would be gray monotone - the colour of raw clay - with only the red lipstick standing out for display. Somehow it never occurred to us that the background could be maintained brown or black. The gray colour of clay, with which the bust was originally carved, seemed like a more authentic and natural choice than the brown tone of soil. It was more about the chemistry of artistic vision and marketing requirements.

But this project apart, it occurs to me that Hemant has indeed never had a human female represented in Black, be it in his paintings or sculptural art. Maybe because black is equated with evil in fairy tales that we do not want a cast of it in an ideal life.

Light is bright, shadows are dark. 
Hope is bright, despair is dark. 
Happiness is bright, gloom is dark.
Matter is bright, vacuum is dark. 

India has seen a tradition where a person's face is blackened in public as a show of humiliation. Black paint, black powder... anything works. Would this practice have the same effect if the person's face was smeared with white instead? What is it about Black that makes it seem obnoxious? Our parents still crib if we wear black for an auspicious family function. Christians wear black for funerals, signifying it as a colour of death and condolence. Black cats feature as a representation of supernatural evil in movies.

photography by Naeem Akram ; courtesy

We find fair faces more attractive. Darker complexioned people need to have really good facial and bodily features to find social appeal. Across the globe, in developed nations, this colour consciousness takes the form of racial discrimination and hatred. Back in India, Fair & Lovely cream has managed to turn our whiteness obsession into an industry of sorts, such is the magnitude of it.

We speak of silver lining to a dark cloud. And of light at the end of a dark tunnel. 

Why does fairness have such impact on our psyche? Perhaps because Fair skin implies a protected life ; deeply tanned skin shows its struggle under the sun... either current or inherited... Is it this struggle we try to shrug away from by associating ourselves with more fair toned people?

Is it because dark is mysterious and manages to hide things? Is it because we look for certainty and assurance and would prefer some vision into the future in an already insecure life? Does light offer us a temporary delusion of being in control of things? We wait for sunrise... Because nights are dark... They stand for all activity coming to a standstill. The night stops all distractions that engage our fluttering minds throughout the day. It calls for reflection, introspection. Maybe we do not want to look within...

It seems as though light helps us run away from ourselves, from reality, from Truth. If indeed it is so, this is most certainly a brain bug. An emotional preference that should have rested within confines of hope and assurance. We have allowed it to encompass areas unrelated to its original scope. 

Remember the womb we all have spent our first nine months in.. that was the darkest, cosiest, most secure environment there could ever be.

Bye for now,


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