German artist highlights gender issues in India in solo show

Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015,13:30 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

New Delhi | German artist Katharina Kakar explores various issues faced by Indian women like gender equality, violence, rape as well as public and individual space in her debut solo exhibition.

‘Crossing the Lakshmana Rekha, Shakti, Sensuality, Sexuality’, on at the India Habitat Centre here till November 30, includes 16 drawings, 22 wall hangings and 16 installations. This exhibition deals with women and their sensuality and also the violence and constrains that women have to face in India. These are issues which are very close to my heart, Kakar said.

The Germany born artist moved to India in 2003 with her husband, renowned writer and psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar, to settle down in Goa. Katha, as she is fondly known, is now bringing forth her own understanding of Indian society in this show. I live in India and it is my home and I relate to it in many different ways so I felt it is important to continue this debate not only through writing but through art to address the subject that is in my opinion very important, she says.

The writer-cum-artist also experiments with a wide range of materials for her installations like pepper and chillies, cloves and coconuts, wax and clay, fish and ash, perfume and paint and even impressions of her own body parts. This particular installation which keeps with the theme of the exhibition ‘Crossing the Lakshmana Rekha’ is a huge floor installation which consists of about 400 human body parts. These are parts of my own body; I moulded them in wax and used pigments so they look like mutilated cut off body parts.

I addressed the issue of public and private space through this, she says. This installation consists of a large circle, approximately three metres in diameter, filled with rose petals surrounded by several hundred distorted wax body parts. The installation mainly refers to women’s vulnerability in public space.

It was no coincidence that the crossing of the Lakshmana Rekha was quoted so often by politicians after the Nirbhaya rape case. Not only are women made partly responsible for violence happening to them, but they are also pushed back into private, controllable space and role expectations. Women should re claim public space and should feel confident being in public space. I think this is a major issue if we work towards safety and equality between the sexes, says Kakar.