A body of creation

A deep look into femininityGhada Da with her work.

A deep look into femininityGhada Da with her work.  

Ghada Da has never been to India but her work at Satellite, on Alserkal Avenue in Dubai, is evocative of Indian philosophy and culture. The fragrance of incense imbues the atmosphere, Tibetan bells ring, transporting you to a mystical site. And amidst this setting you find scrolls, yoni sculptures and a video installation in the exhibition titled ‘CunieForm’, her first solo in Dubai.

“The whole idea is to understand perception of the body, the sacredness of the body, relationship between body and soul in order to understand the body better,” says Ghada, who has been engaged with the subject of the body ever since she started her art practice.

A Saudi, who recently moved to Dubai from London, Ghada discovered Shaktist fertility festivals of South India during her research. And ‘The Sea Calms Down When’ are a series of her cement yoni sculptures scattered through the space.

“So every day I observe different rituals. Sometimes it’s incense, at times it is flowers, indigo, etc....I conceive instinctive rituals. The work is a reflection on the temporality of our physical form. And also if we go back in history, our bodies were not sexualised.”

So, she places offerings in these hollowed out stone sculptures. The material placed will transform over a period of time and a documentation of that change will also take place with performative videos.

Ghada feels her work is rendered more significant due to what is happening around — domestic abuse, rape and violence in general. “I was looking at culture rituals and I found that the female body was a symbol of creation. In ancient times, in Greece, they practised a ritual called ‘Rising of the skirt’. Women would ward off evil by lifting their skirt and protect their family. It was sacred, it was an armour.”

As Ghada puts it, yoni sculptures are her interpretation and understanding of the research. “They are evolving sculptures and with my ongoing research, they would transform.”

Ghada wants to travel to India and create site-specific installations using the material she finds at the sites where these festivals are celebrated.

“And I believe that can happen because the whole show is so organic. One thing led me to another.”

It is evident in her body of work. In ‘November, December, January, March’, she uses her own body and its fluids. These scrolls are actually the vulva prints in which the artist uses her monthly cycle to explore the body as a form. “It is a monthly documentation of writing through the body.”

And it is from here she moves to the study of the female body in culture, which is surrounded by shame and fear in so many belief systems. “The name of the first writing system ‘Cuneiform’, dating back to c.3100 BCE, derives from ‘kunta’, the word for woman, precursor to the word ‘cunt’, now used as a swear word and insult.”

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