The Brahmaputra is not a different story. China has built many dams on the Brahmaputra, and has delayed and withheld the release of waters to lower-lying countries, as a card up its political sleeve in negotiations with them. The group of works by Shernavaz speak powerfully to these themes. In ink or charcoal, the works collect scenes where human life is an occupation of the natural and animal world. The natural reserve seems to resound in both the artists views, as a bonsai, or to this artist, the safari into the reserve is a trespassing into "their lands". Their lands, are the inked River in the Kaziranga on the flood planes of the Brahmaputra, a fleet of fish—flecks of abstract black ink—that leap under water, the cavernous forests of Mahabaleshwar, or the large trees of Khandala filled with swinging life, among them, a quiet, meditating monkey.
Works by Ranjeeta Kumari, connect the turning of land, from the agricultural lands of Noida in the outskirts of Delhi into a cemented sprawl—succinctly, with the making of bricks from grain, that in a line, finally are overcome by cement. Her similarly eco-feminist position, connects the changing of land, to the preamble of the constitution, and to fundamentalism, in a work 'Farming of fundamental', composed of a video and a sculpture. She studies labour, through a sculptural playing with the rags of cloth used to balance heavy loads, of grain, but equally perhaps of construction materials. Her watercolour drawings deconstruct the cloth fabric through several shapes.
The final room speaks of another partition, through the material of lace. Maria-Marika Koenig was given lengths of lace by a dear friend, who began to collect lace borders in Greece. He began with his grandmother's own lace borders, then collecting others. While fleeing Turkey to Greece in the 1922 forced partition and exchange of population, women cut up their dowry-trousseaus of bedsheets, lined with borders of crochet and lace, and carried them to Greece. The decision to divide and cleanse both countries based on religious identity—that in Turkey amounted to mass rape, looting, fire, and genocide—happened so suddenly, people arrived as paupers, carrying almost nothing. A mono print of a salmon, swims with a freedom of curves the lace tries to mimic in its own, different, forced expulsion across the sea. Many of the titles foreground marriage, because these lace borders would have been handmade collectively by women sitting together preparing before a wedding. Serigraphy prints on cotton and silk of the brass votives of the 20s and 30s are placed within the lace borders. They show all the elements of patriarchal expectation: arrangements of the ladies as wives, young children, and the house. In one work, the artist adds a portrait of herself from the 1980s, standing against the sea, with a Turkish-influenced headscarf.
The work of Saviya Lopes is a pop-up show in the first room that precedes the exhibition. It addresses, with warming humour, the ironies of restrictions on the female body; and with biting confrontation, female genital mutilation. If the exhibition expanded the reaches of feminism to ecology and systemic dominance, conjecturing its relation to facism, and what women carried with them as they fled rape, and genocide: the pop-up solo show consists of creative acts of daily, living, feminist subversions.
Maria Marika Koenig
Pooja Pillai, The Indian Express: http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/art-and-culture/mumbai-art-exhibition-colabathe-female-gaze-2826360/
Clark House Initiative is a curatorial collaborative and a union of artists based in Bombay.
Poonam Jain and Rupali Patil are the current directors of Clark House. It was established in 2010 as a curatorial collaborative and artist union concerned with ideas of freedom.
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