Arts Illustrated

October 29, 2019

Ruling It Out

Confused by everything that passes off as Art with a capital A – from navels to naval ships, from doodles to noodles – a Committee sits in to evaluate whether something can be called Art. Only when they bestow the coveted A certificate, can something be publicly referred to as Art. Today is the day that a sports PR firm, Sportside, gets to make its case. Let’s listen in.

Meera Rajagopalan

Art Evaluator (AE): Games mean rules. Rules mean boundaries. Art means no boundaries. Therein lies a conundrum.

Sportside Rep (SR): What a drum?

AE: Conundrum, not water drum.

(Mutters) The sort of people I have to deal with, seriously.

SR: Whatever. Here’s the filled-in application for Ronaldo’s Dribble. Now that’s pure Art.

AE: Cannot be, for does he have the freedom to break boundaries? For instance, can he freely use his hands to play with the balls? The black and white ones? The footballs?

SR: You’re not serious. This is Ro-Nald-O!

AE: I’d rather watch my nephew dribble, for his spit follows no rules. Now that might even be Art. Art I’d pay good money to watch. I must ask my sister to apply.

SR: OK, then. Here’s the application for LeBron James. Have you ever seen him play? Here’s a pen drive with a video of his best shots.

They watch it.

AE: I don’t get it. Your legwork seems good, not so much LeBron’s. Typical basket case.

SR: Excuse me?

AE: First of all, basketball has a boundary, plus a basket. So that’s two too many restrictions.

SR: But just look at him and how he nets it. Those three-pointers! Tell me you’re not impressed.

AE: Let me give you some pointers. Try for something that’s more open, more art-like, not

so rigid.

SR: But what can be more fluid than sports? There’s so much movement. By the way, do you know how many fluids the athletes consume?

AE: Yeah, next.

SR: Me again. This time, it’s for a cricketer. Steven Smith.

AE: You again? Don’t you get it? Cricket this time? Cricket and art are different. Like chalk and cheese.

SR: Silly point. They’re both full of calcium.

AE: Point, but the days of elegant cricket are long gone.

SR: OK, not art, maybe poetry?

 AE: Steven Smith and poetry? Pshcaw! Have you read the verses of a Kabir, a Toni, or even a Rupi?

SR: Smith’s all about the versus. His competitive spirit is nonpareil.

AE: Impossible.

SR: You know, that contains …

AE: Yes, I also know it contains impossible. So, no.

SR: What will you settle for, then? It’s amazing to watch, his batting, and it’s got to be some form of higher movement than just plain old sports. Sports is so 70s.

AE: Perhaps dance? Cricket is, after all, all about movement and legs: short, square, and fine legs. Damn fine legs.

SR: Dance? We were hoping to get a proper A certificate. Not a Performing Arts certificate.

AE: More rules, more boxes, more boundaries. Do you even know what Art is?

SR: Yes, yes. You know what they teach first, in my kids’ school? How to colour within the lines. And in single colour. And you know that frame within which lies a Picasso? That’s a boundary, isn’t it?

AE: That’s convenience. Or how would you transport Art?

SR: Art is supposed to transport you, isn’t it?

AE: But it’s not the boundary that defines the Art.

SR: I literally don’t know what that means.

AE: You’re not an Artist, of course you don’t.

SR: (shakes head): Anyway, do you know who likes to go over the boundary every single ball? Smith. His whole aim is to cross the boundary. Surely, he deserves it?

AE: Make a case, then.

SR: Let me tell you what he is and you tell me he is not an artist. He started off with the ball, but then went on to wield the wood. His stance is awkward and unconventional. He changed teams in his youth. Said he realised where his heart was. Had a disgraceful episode when he broke the rules. Earned a ban so he couldn’t publicly practice his, I dare

say, Art.

AE: Perhaps, but then…

SR: I’m not done. He returned, after the ban, and is now the number one batsman. Like, defies logic. Does that convince you, or what?

AE: Erm…

SR: If that does not meet the criteria, consider this: He’s extremely grumpy. All the time.

AE: Umm…

SR: And is half-English.

AE (sighs): OK, fine. He gets the A-certificate.

SR: Yes! That’s amazing news! Now, how about

a hug?

AE: Sorry, I’m not allowed to.

SR: Come on, man! Don’t leave me hanging here.

AE: Sorry, sir. Those are the rules. We’ve got to follow them.

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