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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 11, No. 1, 2012
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Robert J. Lewis
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an artist

Bhupat Dudi - Doing His Duty


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Bhupat Dudi, a Rajasthan born, MFA graduate from the University of Udaipur (India), is an artist whose social conscience led him to develop an art project that champions the education of girls © Bhupat Dudiin his country. His passionate plea to his countrymen to change the mindset that a girl-child is a liability and therefore not worthy of an education is an ongoing struggle. He uses his art to sensitize people, one village at a time, to the plight of uneducated women. He specializes in sculpture and installation art.

His project, “Freedom: Sowing Seeds,” addresses a social problem that plagues villages all over India: that of neglecting the education of girls.

His exhibitions consist of slide shows, in central village squares, featuring images of famous female personalities. The pictures of the famous women are interspersed with photos of girls from the village so that the only thing standing between them and the famous is education.

© Bhupat Dudi

His project is meant to inspire the villagers to sign on to the notion that educating women will build a healthy society and a healthy nation. Only through education can women find a place for themselves among world personalities. The challenge is twofold: to undo the set-in-stone Indian mindset and reverse the psychology of the passive villager.

His exhibitions consist of slide shows, in central village squares, featuring images of famous female personalities. The pictures of the famous women are interspersed with photos of girls from the village so that the only thing standing between them and the famous is education.

© Bhupat DudiEven in the 21st century, a woman is still conditioned to view herself as a liability meant to be married off. A girl requires a huge dowry to give her in-laws. Child marriages, though banned in India, are still more than occasional occurrences. A girl's birth is rarely celebrated and often ignored. Female infanticide often goes unreported. Even though there are good government run primary schools in the neighbourhood, the girl-child is deprived of education and grows up illiterate, confined to her household activities and working the fields. Participation of women in village decisions and democratic procedures is unheard of. It is urgent to change the status quo and guarantee (enshrine in the constitution) to women their fundamental right to education.  

In “Freedom: Sowing Seeds” project, the artist Bhupat Dudi wants to sow the seeds of a mass movement that will begin the eradication of this social injustice. He invites entire villages to his slide presentations, and reports that attendance can be as high as 50%.

His presentation challenges the notion that boys are more valuable than girls. “Why the birth of a boy should be celebrated but not a girl, when Mother India is also a woman? Why don’t we encourage education for girls so they may succeed in realizing their potential? Why is our social system so rigid as not to give the opportunities to girls?”

These questions are meant to encourage parents and families to question time honoured prejudice against educating girls and make them realize that education is the sign of a progressive society and country. Other artists have also voiced their concerns about the girl-child’s welfare by unanimously supporting his project.

Results will not to be achieved in one day, but Bhupat Dudi is hopeful and encouraged when he sees the smiling faces of young village girls after his presentation. The companion piece of the slide presentation is an installation on the walls of houses facing village roads. Poster portraits of well-known women and village girls are posted on the wall to raise awareness of families, parents and guardians of girls. Every passerby is curious and, therefore, thoughtful about the pictures of these women. Bhupat hopes that the message will spread and mitigate this social evil and usher in significant change in the outlook of the villagers so that the future will bring more favourable opportunities to the women of India.

All images Copyright © Bhupat Dudi


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