There is no better way to understand issues of contemporary art than to hear insiders talk about it as you walk through an exhibition space and look at the work. This event featured an introduction to the show by the curator of the show, Kamini Sawhney, followed by a discussion with artists Bharati Kapadia and Shakuntala Kulkarni, led by sociologist Gita Chadha. The speakers reflected on differing attitudes towards feminism of the past several decades, from their personal experiences and within broader contexts as well. This event was a spirited tribute to the creative efforts of artists represented in the ‘Voicing a Presence’ exhibition from across generations and cultural backgrounds.
Dr. Gita Chadha is a Professor in Sociology, University of Mumbai. She has been working on ‘Feminism and Science’ for about two decades. Her publications include ‘Physics Plagiarism: A Time for Introspection’ [Economic and Political Weekly 2002], ‘Fire: A Relational Sexuality’ [New Quest 1999]. Her forthcoming work is ‘Gender and Science’ in India (2 volumes) edited with Sumi Krishna. She is credited to have designed new courses on ‘Feminist Science Studies’ and organized several Capacity Building Workshops for College and University Teachers on ‘Gender Studies’.
Kamini Sawhney is a curator with the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation, housed in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya. Since 2011, she has helped bring to the public realm a series of exhibitions structured around the collection including a special focus on women’s artists – ‘Voicing a Presence’. She has organized several events and workshops to help audiences connect to the ideas presented and ensure people keep coming back to the gallery. Earlier, she was a journalist and television anchor with NDTV where she was the Bureau Chief and covered political and cultural events. She was awarded a research fellowship at the Delfina Foundation, Tate.
Shakuntala Kulkarni is a Mumbai based multidisciplinary artist whose work is an ongoing enquiry into the lives of urban women and their spaces. She investigates the subjects of home, work environments, cultural and social spaces within a patriarchal society. Originally trained in mural painting, her work has shifted from flat surfaces into sculpture, performance and new media.
Bharati Kapadia was born in Mumbai in 1946 and studied at the Sir J.J. School of Applied Arts, Mumbai. Her oeuvre is the result of a consistent search to arrive at an idiom capable of containing the sap of her experiences, which constitute the backbone of her existential and emotional strength. Through her art, she primarily seeks to invoke the emotional depths of the viewers, which would allow them to receive and respond to the play of multiple resonances, mediums, materials and techniques in her work.
Her work has been exhibited widely in India and abroad. Her last solo show ‘Staging the Sets’ was shown in Mumbai, Vienna and Munich in 2008. She was invited by Transcultural Exchange, Boston to participate in their international art initiatives, ‘The Coaster Project’(2002) and ‘The Tile Project’(2004), and was awarded the Apex Art International Residency, New York in 2001. Her current project is a performance piece titled ‘Untold Stories’ written by her, which she has been performing at various public and private spaces.
She has presented lectures at art institutions and museums in India and abroad. Her work is in several collections in India, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, UK and USA.