Gods and Dolls

Medium : Stoneware, Patinas, Metallic paints, Glazes, Jute
Size : Various Sizes
Date : April 2009 

This installation is meant to signify the various roles that women play in today’s Indian society, and simultaneously explore the contradictions between the importance given to women in Hindu mythology and the harsh ground realities faced by the  oft-oppressed Indian woman. 

The three roles depicted are a rural bride, an aristocratic housewife and a working woman. 

The veiled bride sits on a broken charpai, signifying her lack of participation in a flawed system. Coins strewn beside the charpai symbolize wealth from goddess Lakshmi, which ironically in her case is the dowry that has drained her father’s finances. 

The working woman has successfully broken the educational oppression practiced by the alpha-male (embodied by the Shiv-ling), and walks swiftly and confidently forward, but the snake-like glass ceiling may yet poison her ambitions. 

The aristocratic housewife seemingly has it all, and is in the lap of luxury, but in reality has compromised independence and ambition for material comfort. So much for the tiger-like strength accompanying many Indian goddesses, this woman has meekly surrendered, and skeletons are all that’s left of her dreams. 

Serenading both the bride and the housewife is the soothing flute of Lord Krishna, but the romance is either non-existent or fleeting. Krishna’s charms almost seem to have been used to entice these unsuspecting women into their future harsh realities. 

Interspersed around these women are myriad other symbols of the importance and power of women in Hindu mythology, Kali’s tongue, saraswati’s books and Lakshmi’s lotus. These symbols are either inexplicably dormant or impotent, and while some advances have been made(symbolized by the working woman), the woman’s place in Indian society has a long way to go before it has even a semblance of its mythological glory.

Purdah 2.0: Body Matters
The Second Annual Arts Exhibition at Engendered

June 25th-July 16th, 2009 | Halvai Gallery, 75 Grand Street, NY
Opening Reception: June 30, 2009 7 p.m.

After the inaugural edition of Purdah – the unprecedented transcultural exhibition on art, gender and sexuality last year, Engendered presents Purdah 2.0: Body Matters.

Curated by:
Amina Begum Ahmed

Exhibition Director :
Myna Mukherjee