Identity, as interpreted through gender and sexuality, is a dominant element in the works of three well-known contemporary female visual artists, Mithu Sen, Tejal Shah, and Chitra Ganesh. While addressing global issues of identity, gender and sexuality, their works are derived from within the specifics of an Indian milieu referencing and re-presenting popular notions in society. Their artworks contend with the contrasting concepts of visualising the body as ‘object of desire’ (Jacques Lacan) and the ‘abject’ (Julia Kristeva). With their preferred modes of expression varying from melodrama to fantasy to dark humour, their concepts grow more relevant within the context of recent upheavals caused by the passing of landmark bills on gender and sexuality in the world’s largest democracy. Working in various media they employ strategies that challenge the binary categories and directly or indirectly question the validity of existent cultural tenets. This analysis of select artworks endeavours to unravel how art engages with societal changes.
Contemporary, India, Gender, Sexuality, Identity, Visual Art
The Arts in Social, Political, and Community Life
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Dr, Fine Arts, Stella Maris College, India
Dr Swapna Sathish is Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Stella Maris College, Chennai, India. Her research interests include popular culture, colonial and contemporary art in India.