As exhibition, Image and Words, mounted as par of the AAC campaign, involved over 400 painters, writers and photographers in the ongoing attempt to elaborate the secular ideology. From its opening in New Delhi till its conclusion Bombay on March 16, 1992, the exhibition travelled to 30 cities, after which it toured 40 schools in Delhi. Keeping thematic unity and visual harmony in mind, the 9” x 9” works, which ranged from the abstract to slogans, were displayed as panels composed of 9 images each. The panels gave a concrete and tangible expression to the idea of cultural plurality.
By demonstrating the plurality of the sub-continent’s artistic traditions the issue of communal divisions was directly confronted. Reinterpreting the symbols of tradition, underlining aspects ignored by opposing of an appropriation that creates a new cultural milieu. Without it no artistic endeavour is possible. Communal divisions and hegemonic stereotypes are inimical to the continuity and advance of our culture. With this recognition, economic and politically expedient reasons for opposing communalism acquire a depth and meaning which make the struggle against communalism a concrete way of life.
Through participation in the AAC campaign visual artists who professionally function in an increasingly private space found an opportunity for expressing themselves within a more public space. Their work was viewed by totally uninitiated audiences who had often not even been exposed to such art forms. The experience gave rise to a fresh non-legislated collectivity allowing tremendous scope for private exploration of a social issue on the one hand while directly manifesting a collective expression of concern on the other. Visual artists, writers and poets responded magnificently, showing no hesitation in meeting expedient requirements of the AAC’s collective effort. They painted around specific themes, to specified sizes, within a specified time frame – factors which initiated imaginative extensions of art practices. Being part of a well-defined platform against communalism affected the consciousness of participating artists in ways which cannot be quantifies.