Mithu Sen

Abstract: Through this talk, I want to discuss about the other kinds of bodies in my work- metaphysical, physical, emotional and subconscious. I will try to draw a narrative of my art practice. My art practice has been primarily read through the morbid and humorous representation of human and non-human, organic and inorganic bodies.

It will be an insight into my works through my words. Through this talk I want to evade all the stereotypes that have come to be associated with me; for I feel that change is essential and indispensable in making a body of art wholesome.

I would like to look at ‘feminism’ through the narrative of my work, which is not central to one specific gender, rather takes a more humane approach to appreciate life, emotions and feelings and not only through the lens of acute eroticism and sexuality in my art practice.

Further I would like to explore the idea of language as it has evolved in my language over the years. Coming from a Bengali background and struggling with a more socially accepted “metropolitan” language like English I have come to use the unconscious and non-structured aspect of our consciousness in order to deal with this marginality. For me marginality is not only socio-political and cultural. It is also of our inner voices and emotions that we have come to ignore or forget under cultural pressure. This marginality resides in our body and our body resides on those margins.

In a way, the narrative strewn through this talk will reflect the merging/fading of physical body into an abstract ‘nothingness’ in my works: a nothingness which is intangible but with a presence of its own.

Mithu Sen (b. 1971, West Bengal, India) rose to prominence in the last decade for her drawings, sculptures, and installations in which sensual and grotesque representations of the human body, animals, and inanimate objects seethe with undercurrents of irony and wit. A prominent voice in contemporary art from India, Sen upends common approaches to gender and sexuality by exploring the broad connotations of physical attributes like hair, the backbone, and teeth. Extremely visceral, her work is also disquietingly pretty, often using striking pinks and reds.

Sen will be visiting Michigan for the opening of an exhibition of her work at Michigan State University's Broad Art Museum in April. In the exhibition, Sen uses false teeth and dental polymer to create a large-scale gum-like sculpture that opposes the geometric lines of Hadid’s architecture. Playing with the histories of minimalism and materiality in twentieth century art, Sen’s sculptural intervention is primed to provoke curiosity and deep contemplation.

Sen trained at the prestigious school of art in Santiniketan, West Bengal and the Glasgow School of Art before moving establishing herself in the vibrant art scene of New Delhi. In addition to showing frequently in New Delhi and Mumbai, Sen has held solo exhibitions of her work in Brussels, Paris, Singapore, Taipei, Vienna, Zurich, New York, and Glasgow. Her 2010 solo exhibition "Black Candy (iforgotmypenisathome)" was awarded the Škoda Prize for Contemporary Indian Art. Her work has featured in important group museum shows at the Tate Modern, London; Kastrupgårdsamlingen Museum, Copenhagen; Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw and CAC in Vilnius; Institut Valencià d'Art Modern; Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai; Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Museum of Fine Arts, Berne; the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi; and Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon.

For more details.

April 11, 4:00 PM, Room 1636 School of Social Work Building

Sponsored by CSAS, with cosponsorship by: UMMA, PSSAD, and the Department of History of Art.