Art Art

Contorted in protest

Shaila Nambiar  

A bobby pin, a safety pin and a hair brush are some of the everyday objects that Hyderabad-based artist Shaila Nambiar uses to make her audience think about notions of beauty thrust upon women. She uses metal, paper and fabric to make larger-than-life sculptures of common objects. Sculptures of 2feet – 4feet show twisted bobby pins and deformed safety pins as motifs through which she highlights how women twist themselves to fit into societal conditioning of beauty and hence, identity.

Shaila has drawn attention to these issues time and again. The exhibition at Alliance Francaise encapsulates her artistic journey. “These sculptures are twisted out of shape to represent a state of protest or disruption. Women’s bodies are always under scrutiny. The West witnessed a form of protest in the 60s when some women broke free of their corsets and bras.

The distorted bobby pin

The distorted bobby pin  

In India, the issues range from patriarchy to dealing with the image projected by mass media. There are so many people telling you what to do. These disruptive sculptures are my reaction to this conditioning,” she says, talking about her rebellious streak.

In the past, she has presented some of these sculptures at art events in Venice (Anima Mundi Festival; 2017) and London (Sweet ‘Art Femfest; 2017), apart from Indian Art Fair (2012) among other prestigious art events, and observed reactions from men and women.

“Many people connected with the disruption while a few didn’t. I am okay with different viewpoints,” she states.

Way Back Home

Way Back Home  

Shaila will also exhibit select works that are an extension of her earlier series ‘Way Back Home’ in which she uses inland letters, tea bags, granite and print to discuss the idea of home. The series was born out of introspection when she and her parents moved out of their home in Baroda. These works bear writings of Khalil Gibran. “I related to the way he questioned the idea of home — what is home? The walls and the doors that make our space or the memories associated with it?” she elaborates.

When Shaila discusses on her evolution as an artist, she observes that she was discovering herself while studying at Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda. It was during her post-graduation at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, that she began questioning deep-rooted notions. “The artistic freedom coupled with the freedom of thought made me question everything that we accept as the norm. I also became aware of what I wanted to do as an artist,” she sums up.

Bonjour India: ‘Disruptive Self’ by Shaila Nambiar will be on view at Alliance Francaise, Banjara Hills, from November 2 to 10. From November 2017 to February 2018, Alliance Francaise centres across the country will celebrate ‘Bonjour India’, held once in three years. Look out for performances by artists from India and France, ranging from art, theatre, music, digital and performing arts, street art, film screenings, map exhibitions and more.


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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 2:51:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/shaila-nambiars-disruptive-self-is-her-continuing-dialogue-on-womanhood-and-identity/article19960813.ece

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