London based Rossi & Rossi hosts an exhibition by Jaishri Abichandani, entitled ‘Dirty Jewels’. The power of fetish is supreme in her work as evident in ‘Hearts of Darkness’ (Condoleezza Rice and Ayaan Hirsi Ali; 2010). Titled after Joseph Conrad's novel, examining the darkness within us, the couple seems to conjure up mixed emotions
Hirsi Ali, projected as a feminist icon in the Western media, is a contentious figure in the Muslim world because of her apparent anti-Islamic rhetoric. Formally, the piece here mimics a box of chocolates, the faces of women merging into the shape of a heart - their complexions various shades of chocolate brown. Though framed by sweetness, like much of her work, this one has a strong aftertaste reflected in its subjects' moral ambiguity and our relationship to them as well as their blackness. It points to the complex rules and roles black women have had to negotiate throughout history in order to gain power.
An accompanying note elaborates: "Both women smile at us, displaying the whites of their teeth, but their eyes, more significantly, are smiling too, crinkling slightly at the edges suggesting sincerity. We judge their policies from our progressive political stances and they continue to smile. Their smiles challenge us to have lived the lives they have lived and emerge with a different outcome. We would all like to believe we are different. The artist forces us to ask whether we really are."
Born in Mumbai and now based in Brooklyn, Jaishri Abichandani has shown her work in the Guangzhou Triennial; the Beijing 798 Biennial, and art institutions including P.S.1. and the Queens Museum of Art in New York; the Institut Valencia d'Art Modern etc. An accomplished curator herself, she is the founder of the South Asian Women's Creative Collective, having also served as Founding Director (Public Events) at the Queens Museum. Her work is in collections like the Momenta Art Video Library, the Florian Peters-Messers Collection, the Saatchi Collection, and the Burger Collection.
Published to coincide with the exhibition is a catalogue, with essays by art historian Francesca Pietropaolo and independent curator and Uzma Z. Rizvi, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Urban Studies at Pratt Institute of Art and Design, Brooklyn, New York.