Tuesday, September 25, 2012

‘Walls of the Womb’ and ‘Chhota Paisa’

Copenhagen-based ARKEN features works by several talented female contemporary artists from India.

Associations with motherhood
Reena Saini Kallat lives and works in Mumbai. Her ‘Walls of the Womb’ is a personal and autobiographical work. She lost her mother when early and grew up in close contact with her mother’s belongings. The associations with motherhood are carried through the symbolic usage of the red saris collectively forming an intimate space of recollections.

The writing on the saris in braille is recipes from the mother’s handwritten cookery book, made through the process of tie-dye. The ‘braille’ is illegible, and it thus becomes a metaphor of her mother’s own absence. The word ‘sari’ comes from Sanskrit and quite simply means ‘a strip of cloth’. The well known Indian garment is at least 3000 years old, and it has many functions and meanings. Among other things, Indian mothers wrap saris around their daughter’s waists as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.
Indian women and the intimate chamber
On the other hand, Bharti Kher, born in London to Indian parents and now settled in New Delhi, employs the bindi as her leitmotifs. One could imagine that an Indian woman has been sitting here alone in the intimate chamber before her wedding, confessing her secrets, aspirations and desires to the silent walls. Is the room an antechamber to happiness, or is it a claustrophobic cell? Perhaps they are a story of her life so far. What patterns would your thoughts draw on the walls?
Works buzzing with sounds of street vendors
Rashmi Kaleka, another artist from Delhi, works with audio art. Her ‘Chhota Paisa’ (Small Change) (2012) is based on the sounds of Delhi’s street vendors in the early morning hours.  The morning cries of the street vendors from sunrise on are the city’s alarm clock, a cacophony of voices to which the city wakes up every day.

For several years she has sought out the street vendors and recorded their voices. The recordings have been composed into a musical sound collage in collaboration with the Swiss composer Hans Koch. The audio work is accompanied by a video panning shot of the roofs of Delhi at dawn. It’s a beautiful and very moving work in which the artist acts as an anthropologist, capturing and preserving a local, authentic culture about to disappear due to globalization.

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