2020. Passages

Women take pledge to fight gender discrimination as they form part of a 620 kilometers (388 miles) long ‘women’s wall’ in Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala, India,Tuesday, Jan.1, 2019. The wall was organized in the backdrop of conservative protestors blocking the entry of women of menstruating age at the Sabarimala temple, one of the world’s largest Hindu pilgrimage sites defying a recent ruling from India???s top court to let them enter. (AP Photo/R S Iyer)

The work in Passages covers, in part, my reaction to exclusion, rejection, denial and their opposites.

The spark that led to this  was seeing the  January 2019 photographs of 5 million Indian women standing in a line 388 miles long to protest their exclusion from a temple on the basis of their gender, as did (and do) the continuing reports on the persistence of a variety of patriarchal attitudes to the female body in 21st century India.

And that same year I saw the reproduced drawings by children in the cages on the borders of this country and read (and am still reading) the news coverage.

Doors are based on memories of Hindu temples, their towers, courtyards and entrances ending at an inner sanctum accessed by very few. The Sanskrit laws printed on these pieces refer to the treatment of women but might be used for any group whose rights of entry and inclusion are more limited than their exclusion or rejection.

Dancers allude to avenues of freedom and bodily autonomy through dance.

The gestures and stances of series of abstract feminine forms are based on reading medieval female poets of South Asia. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of now—I’ve been seen dancing openly,” says Mirabai. “I’m leaving these troubles here, crossing to the other side.” Or, as the Kashmiri mystic, Lalleshwari, writes, “I was taught one thing: to live as a soul. When I learned that I began to go naked and dance.”

And Rumi, of course, uses dance as both belief and metaphor for every state of the ecstatic, mystical experience as the soul sublimates itself into the universe.

Gateways again refer to exclusion or entry, the Buddhist texts of the Four Noble Truths surrounding altered prints of caged bodies.

Suktas and Mandalas contemplate the self as the universe, referring to temple forms with a sideways glance at vedic ideas of creation and power.

See the images on pages nested into this one