Centre Pompidou is hosting a retrospective of Indian artist Nalini Malini, a pioneer of video and performance art.
The Paris branch of the exhibition “The Rebellion of the Dead, Retrospective 1969-2018” on show until early 2018, merges performance, painting, installation and video while exploring both personal and political issues through the lens of narration, trauma and memory.
Supported by Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), the exhibition “The Rebellion of the Dead, Retrospective 1969-2018” is part of a unique collaboration between Paris’ Centre Pompidou, where it is on show until 8 January 2018, and Castello di Rivoli, Turin (on display from 27 March to 22 July 2018). The artist’s creativity is explored and celebrated across these two exhibitions, with the first section in Paris presenting works from 1969 to 2018, which encompasses the artist’s latest painting series All We Imagine as Light (2016).
The two exhibitions highlight the key concepts which belie Nalini Malini‘s work: utopia, dystopia, her vision of India and of the role of women in the world. The impact of the 1947 Partition of India is felt, something that has been a traumatic experience for Malini’s own family.
As the exhibition’s press release explains, her art is one which depicts far-reaching political issues, around women, violence, stereotypes and exploitative nationalism:
Her explorative investigation of female subjectivity and her profound condemnation of violence – in its insidious and mass forms – is a constant reminder of the vulnerabilities and precariousness of life and human existence. In her art she places inherited iconographies and cherished cultural stereotypes under pressure. Her point of view is unwaveringly urban and internationalist, and unsparing in its condemnation of a cynical nationalism that exploits the beliefs of the masses.
My own art was from the very start female-oriented. I believe this is natural, a given, as women have a completely different relationship to the body than men. And women also hold a different position in society, anywhere in the world, compared to men. The female protagonists manifest themselves already in my early experimental black and white films such as Still Life (1969), Onanism (1969) and Taboo (1973).
In my later works, I often work with existing female characters from mythology, literature or history, to reintroduce male-dominated history from a female point of view. This one can see in paintings such as Sita/Medea (2006), Talking about Akka (2007) and Cassandra (2009) or my video-based works such as Mother India: Transactions in the Construction of Pain (2005) and Remembering Mad Meg (2007). This feminist approach and commitment will continue for the rest of my life. Over the years, women in selective societies have acquired a degree of equality with men, but still today there is too much left wanting.
At the heart of Malani’s creative practice is the concept of “painting beyond the frame”, and to this end she relies extensively on video work and installation to expand her oeuvre. Duality is also central to her work, as she grapples and questions the middle ground between two points of reference, or understanding. As mentioned, her work is impacted by her move as a refugee to India, after Partition, where she moved to Calcutta, before settling in Mumbai. During the 1950s, she travelled internationally to Japan and France due to her father’s airline job. While still in high school, anatomy and botany dissections made during biology lessons inspired her to become an artist. She studied fine arts in Mumbai and in Paris in 1970-72.
In her installations viewers are drawn into a vortex of images, animated with sound, light and movement. Creating worlds within worlds, she defies a complacent position in her practice, each time placing herself outside the comfort zone to act upon situations/issues fraught with violence, trauma and pain.
- Indian artist Nalini Malani talks myth, metaphor and women – interview – March 2014 – Nalini Malani searches for a language that transcends boundaries
- 11 influential South Asian neo-miniaturists – January 2014 – South Asian artists reinterpret and reinvent miniature art through their contemporary conceptual practices
- India and Thailand honoured in Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize 2013 – June 2013 – Indian visual artist Nalini Malani wins the coveted Fukuoka Arts and Culture Prize
- Indian art season in France: installation dominates 2 major museum shows – July 2011 – Nalini Malani’s Tales of Good and Evil featured in a top Paris exhibition
- Bani Abidi on Indian video art, a medium on the rise – interview Tehelka Magazine – September 2009 – Abidi names Malani as one of the “most senior practitioners of [the video] medium”
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