Artistic sensibilities are always deeply affected by the dysfunctions of the world – in the midst of this pandemic, it is not surprising to see women artists expressing existentialist anguish
“The new normal is anything but ordinary” reads the curator’s note of the virtual exhibition titled, ‘Living The New Normal: In These Extraordinary Times.’
At a time when social distancing, facemasks, lockdowns, quarantine and curfews have become a norm, many say the world will never be the same.
This exhibition explores the photographic work of five Indian women artists whose work alludes to the extraordinary and incongruous crisis that we are experiencing highlighted through their various bodies of work. It features the works of Anita Dube, Mithu Sen, Prajakta Potnis, Pushpamala N and Shilpa Gupta.
“The current moment we are experiencing is unprecedented. I thought it important that my foundation presents a show that is self- reflective of the world at large, forcing us to pause and consider what the new normal would be and its outcome on our lives,” says Shalini Passi founder of Mash.
Artist Anita Dube’s series titled ‘Eye Photos’ — photos of eyes glued on her palms — recalling the application of ‘mehndi’ in the spirit of ‘bhakti’ and ‘shringar’, but also as a contemporary performance gesture.
Shilpa Gupta has explored the abstract nature of frontiers, often juxtaposing them with elements from nature that defy them, since the last two decades. Her series, ‘Half a Sky’ (2017) in reference to the current moment defines how permeable the boundaries which like the sky cannot be contained.
Referring to art critic Boris Groys interview where he states “memory functions as a freezer”, artist Prajakta Potnis works on the same. For the last few months she has been attempting to transform the site of the freezer into a space that could resonate as a corporeal site of a memory bank. By appropriating found film slides from the personal archives of an unknown tourist that she came across in a quaint market in Berlin in 2014.
Artist Pushpamala N has created ‘Return of the Phantom Lady’ a sequel to her popular ‘Phantom Lady or Kismet’ from 1996 to 1998. It was the artist’s first “photo-performance” and was shot in noir style, the thriller starred Pushpamala as the Phantom. In Return, the Phantom Lady gets caught again in a dark web of murder, intrigue, and foul play in contemporary Mumbai.
Mithu Sen for her series the ‘Unsocial Media’ makes use of her social media posts to create or to see something tangible and then again create stories around it by manipulating and treating each printed one individually.
Return of the Phantom Lady by Artist Pushpamala M
“I had a premonition as early as 2013 that the direction the world was going, something ominous was going to take place. This led me to curate Uncomfortably Numb: Investigating the Uncanny in Contemporary Times that addressed the paranoia and apocalyptic feeling we are experience today. Living the New Normal in a sense is a sequel to this exhibition that not only marks the anxiety and angst that highlight the fragility of life, but the changes that we need to urgently reflect on as a society,” says curator Dr. Arshiya Lokhandwala.
The exhibition is on display on the website of Mash till October 31.
(Cover: Mithu Sen’s work Unsocial Media)