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Over 250 artists, writers express concern over 'hostile' work spaces

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: December 22, 2018  | 13:52 IST

New Delhi, Dec 22 (PTI) Expressing concern over rising number of sexual harassment allegations and "hostile work environments", over 265 prominent artists, curators, gallerists, collectors and writers Saturday demanded ensuring "safe spaces" within the South Asian Arts Community. In a joint statement released Saturday, artists Orijit Sen, Sudarshan Shetty, Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra; gallerists Shireen Gandhy, Priyanka and Prateek Raja; and writers Urvashi Butalia and Nilanjana S Roy, among others, stressed the need to address issues concerning the "amorphous" art world, where the "professional and personal spaces cannot be easily separated". "As active stakeholders in the South Asian arts community, we are concerned by the growing number of allegations of sexual harassment and reports of hostile work environments," the statement, shared with the PTI, said. "The art world is amorphous in nature: social mobility is dependent on informal networking and personal and professional spaces cannot be easily separated," it said. The artistes collectively condemned the shaming of survivors, including those who have called out their perpetrators anonymously, and called for safeguarding and supporting them. "Survivors who publicly tell their stories face serious forms of retaliation. They are reluctant to disclose their identities because they fear losing work. "As a community, we commit to ensuring that people who are speaking out are protected, and that professional opportunities are not denied to them," they said. They "strongly objected" the "use of defamation as a method to intimidate and silence survivors and those who represent their interests". The statement further advocated open and supportive spaces that allow women, trans people, queer people, and those who have been disenfranchised by caste and class structures to voice their concerns and find support. "We pledge to collectively reflect, ideate and act on developing the necessary legal and informal support mechanisms to address these challenges. We will do our best to protect spaces for open conversations, and uphold basic codes of professionalism," the statement reads. The statement comes nearly a week after leading Indian contemporary artist Subodh Gupta was anonymously accused on social media of repeated sexual misconduct. Gupta had denied the charges. Other people who have been called out for inappropriate behaviour in the Indian art world include artists Jatin das and Riyas Komu, and Sotheby’s India MD Gaurav Bhatia. PTI TRS TIR TIR

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