NL Interview: TM Krishna on ‘apolitical’ artists and negotiating privilege with activism

Newslaundry hosts the musician, writer and activist for NL Recess.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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In this episode of NL Recess, musician, writer and activist TM Krishna joins Jayashree Arunachalam to talk about activism, privilege, creating inclusive spaces in art, and the age-old conversation of “art vs artist”.

On his own journey, Krishna says, “I was trying to figure my own space within music and within what I was doing, which slowly led me to take action as a musician...then unrolling into the other ideas of society, people and community.”

He adds, “There has to be that honesty for you to look back at what you’ve done and what you’ve been in a critical manner. I mean, there’s no point in having a critical view of everything else in life but yourself – there’s something fundamentally wrong with it.”

Jayashree and Krishna discuss the importance of self-awareness driving public action, how to challenge cultural and aesthetic privilege (which Krishna describes as the “Fabindia culture”), how Carnatic musicians often claim to be “apolitical”, and the future of Carnatic music itself.

On his own role in the Carnatic world, he says, “How does one reconcile the power that you get in spite of you being critical of the environment that you’re in?” He explains that for art culture to change, three things must be subverted: people, content, and spaces.


Text by Rounak Bhat.

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