Humanity has always liked stories. From the walls of caves with stories of cattle, to entire libraries that fit into our palms, humankind has come a long way through history with the same sense of wonder about stories, intact. Indian Mythology is full of stories. The two main epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, have been told and re-told in myriad ways and artforms. They contain wonderous characters that guide us through their virtues and vices alike. Mahabharata is an epic with multiple avenues of interpretation, that looks completely enticing when being looked at, from the lens of gender. The key characters of Mahabharata are even more invigorating and inspiring when rendered in the female form, giving us a sharp sense of our own perspective, and a closer sense of identification with the story. This series, “Mahila Bharat”, a collection of paintings, is my humble attempt to marry the gorgeous characters of a common story we all know, and present it from a female frame of reference while parallelly addressing common social issues and emotions of the modern life we lead, as the female tribe of this planet.
When I read about Dridharashtra, and pictured him as a woman, I felt he was not so different from a woman. He was completely blinded by the love of his sons, love for art (he was a very nuanced music listener) and a childlike exuberance and curiosity. I wanted to portray these, in a very playful manner but also show his blindness as a metaphor to women being blinded by Patriarchal beliefs. Originally planned as a painting, I realised I can show all of us(audience) as Dridharashtra, as we are all blinded by these beliefs at some point. The Pink is for his childlike playfulness and also to show gender stereotyping. The various hand gestures are up to your interpretations, some are positive too, but I see them as patronizing, there’s also a certain grabbing gesture that’s world famous. Almost broke my finger to handcut these stencils, but very happy with the result.
A hundred hands of patriarchy,
All from her womb,
to the truth.
She can’t see
What a wonderful
She can be. -The Blind Queen
Oh and the most important point of why I did this installation is this!! “YOU CAN STEP AWAY FROM THE BLINDNESS”. it’s a metaphor for how you can choose to step away from these beliefs and make a new world for yourself.