Superman to promote safe sex message
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A new exhibition featuring oils on canvas by artist duo Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra addresses the themes of safe sex practices and increased sexual activity among Indian youth against the backdrop of traditional perceptions of sexuality.
"Superman is every girl's man. He wears latex and saves the world. He is a larger than life character and we have used him as a metaphor to promote safe sex," says Jiten Thukral.
The exhibition "Put it on, Again" continues from their solo exhibition "Put It On" held in 2007 in New York and is on display at the Nature Morte gallery in Delhi till February 26.
"We live in the age of Internet where we can see porn films but can not talk about sex to elders. We thought its time to analyse our behaviour towards sex through art," says Sumir Tagra, calling their effort a behavioural change exercise.
Different schools in Delhi have been invited to send children to the exhibition.
"There is no sex education for children in schools. Our work will be like an educational programme helping them in understanding about sex," says Thukral.
With their characteristic use of pop culture imagery, graphic pizzazz, colours, sardonic wit and insightful juxtapositions, the duo has tried to address deadly serious subjects in a humorous way.
They are using their medium of art to reach the places where conventional campaigns on HIV have failed to reach.
Apart from exhibiting their work at the gallery, the artists have tried to take the safe sex message through slippers to grass root level called 'Pehno'.
"We have printed condoms on bathroom slippers. When people wear them everyday at home, they are constantly reminded of having safe sex," says Tagra.
"To spread message of safe sex more comprehensively, we need to use new mediums that move in private spaces of people and make an impact. Slippers are something that a common man wears everywhere," he adds.
Their installation work "The Beautiful Game," first created for the India Art Summit last month is also being presented during the exhibition. Winners of the game will get the merchandise that will educate them about safe sex practices.
"The form of the billiards game itself will act as a metaphor for both the anxiety associated with sexual awakening and the thrill of the amorous adventures. By creating the atmosphere of a gaming hall in the context of an art gallery, we will try to lure the public into a dialogue about a subject they may usually do everything to avoid," says Thukral.
It's not the first time that an issue of social importance is finding a place in their work. In their Brisbane exhibition, they worked on immigrant Indians living in Australia while in their Beijing project, they handled the issue of 'holiday wives' in India.
"Our art is for masses and we believe that art can change people's views and lives. We will continue to work in this direction," says Tagra.