Prophetess of high art

By Chinki Sinha | India Today

Here used to be a prophetess once. The burden of Greek mythological character Cassandra's "gift" is her ability to see the future. She appears on the artists' canvases as this tragic figure of a woman who can see but is never believed. It is all psychoanalytic.


You could call Nalini Malani a kind of prophetess in the realm of postmodern art. At 73, the Mumbai-based artist who has tirelessly worked across mediums often using text, sound, performances and even theatre to make her work that is dark and ominous and distinctly feminist, is relentless. You could say it is the brutal force of an artist who is a woman, whose very politics stems from one of the biggest tragedies of the subcontinent - the Partition. She is one of midnight's children, a girl thrown into a strange space of the unknown when she moved with her parents to Calcutta from Karachi after partition. She grew up in the suburbs of Bombay and in her dual projection film Utopia (1969-1976), she documents the hope given to the middle classes by Nehru's modernism in the 1960s and contrasts it with the disillusionment in the urban dystopia of the 1970s.

13 June 2019