2020. Passages: New Ceramics
In Passages, a collection of new ceramics, Kanika Sircar includes a series of stoneware Doors 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. Suktas and Mandalas also refer to temple forms and look sideways at vedic ideas of creation and power.
Other pieces allude to avenues of freedom and bodily autonomy through dance. The gestures and stances of a series of porcelain Dancers, abstract feminine forms, are based on reading medieval South Asian poets. “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.”
The photographs of 5 million Indian women standing in a line 385 miles long to protest their exclusion from a temple last year sparked these thought-provoking ceramics, as did reports on the persistence of a variety of patriarchal attitudes to the female body in 21st century India. Sircar’s sculptural vessels are handbuilt or thrown and altered, their surfaces graphic and painterly, colors layered with diagrams, marks, and texts, containers of ideas and imagination.