The original project imagined the setting up of a fantasy photo studio, the sort of old fashioned portrait studio with painted sets and props, which even sometimes provided its customers with costumes. In this setting, we would explore and rethink popular images of South Indian women by recreating well known images in the genre of photo-performance, while deconstructing them in various ways.
This resulted in a large body of work titled Native Women of South India: Manners and Customs, consisting of four series of images and exhibited in its entirety as an installation based on the concept of a film or theatre museum, with more than 250 photographs in four series, shown along with the painted backdrops, curtains, props and costumes.
All the photographs have been taken on negative film and each series represents a different genre of photography.
“Goddesses, political satire, film stills, calendar icons, votive and high art images, anthropometrical and ethnographic records, news and documentary photographs and a host of other images and image formats are cited and wittily cross-fertilized. The artists create a virtual population explosion that mimics the mood, energy and genius of the visual vernacular in contemporary India.”- Susie Tharu
Catalogue published by Nature Morte Delhi, Bose Pacia New York and Gallery Chemould Mumbai.
This work was part of the series :
Native Women of South India: Manners and Customs (2000-2004)
Pushpamala N in collaboration with Clare Arni
This artwork description has been sourced from the artist website.
Born in Bangalore, 1956, Pushpamala N has been called “the most entertaining artist-iconoclast of contemporary Indian art”. In her sharp and witty work as a photo- and video-performance artist, sculptor, writer, curator and provocateur, and in her collaborations with writers, theatre directors and filmmakers, she seeks to subvert the dominant cultural and intellectual discourse. She is known for her strongly feminist work and for her rejection of authenticity and embracing of multiple realities. As one of the pioneers of conceptual art in India and a leading figure in the feminist experiments in subject, material and language, her inventive work in sculpture, conceptual photography, video and performance have had a deep influence on art practice in India.
Starting off her career as a sculptor, Pushpamala began using photography and video in the mid -1990s, creating tableaux and photo-romances in which she casts herself in various roles. Interested in history and the idea of cultural memory, she cites a wide range of references in her series of masquerades where she simultaneously inhabits and questions familiar frames from art history, photography, film, theatre and popular culture, thereby placing herself as the artist at the centre of social and political inquiry.
Pushpamala N lives and works in Bangalore after having lived for periods in different Indian cities. She exhibits widely in India and internationally, and speaks often at seminars and conferences.
This artist bio has been sourced from the artists website .