VIBAH GALHOTRA, BHARATI KHER, PRAJAKTA POTNIS, REENA SAINI KALLAT, MITHU SEN AND TEJAL SHAH
How do women artists in India use their voices today? How do they deal with their social responsibility and the legacy of their feminist precursors? Which language do they find for that which remains unsaid? How is the history of their own country, as well as the present and future of India, depicted from a female perspective? For the first time in Germany, the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg is presenting an exhibition with works by six women artists from India.
Vibha Galhotra, Bharti Kher, Prajakta Potnis, Reena Saini Kallat, Mithu Sen and Tejal Shah provide answer to these questions. They use their multimedia works as sites of social reflection draw attention to historical and contemporary border conflicts. Poetically, metaphorically and quietly, as well as radically, directly and loudly, they question borders at all levels- be these gender borders or political, territorial. Ecological or religious borders. The history of these borders, their visibility and invisibility, their legitimacy, and not seldom their dissolution are the common theme of the broad spectrum of works presented in the exhibition.
Although women and men have equal legal status, Indian society is profoundly marked by patriarchy. India finds itself in a state of fundamental social change, yet it remains torn between the poles of tradition and progress — and in this field of tension, women are still strongly disadvantaged. The rapid development of urban India thus runs contrary to the living conditions in rural areas. Countless ethnicities, castes, languages, cultures, religions, and philosophies form an ostensibly pluralistic society, in which identity is defined by differentiation from the respective other. The social structure of India thus reflects that of our global community as a whole, which basically struggles with the same issues as India does.
Socialized and educated in an increasingly globalized world, these women artists no longer limit their “border controls” solely to India, but rather reach out into other countries and continents. The state, society, and the individual, as well as questions regarding identity and the environment, are critically examined.
“Facing India” was developed out of a continuing dialog with the artists and reflects a kind of collective plea for communication and the notion of unity in diversity beyond pigeonhole thinking and caste mentality. The exhibition architecture incorporates these ideas. Each of the six artists has her own separate exhibition space, which are arranged to provide clear visual relations to each other. The center of the exhibition is an open communication forum, which allows the visitor a view in all directions — both literally and metaphorically.