Her Stories is a both a retrospective look at the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, and an overview of some of the most compelling contemporary art being made today from the perspective of South Asian women’s identity. These 43 key artists explore their own cultural identities, and yet this intimate exhibition also examines how cultural expectations, history, and myths affect how we see ourselves in the world today.
This exhibition presents works by established and emerging artists from across the South Asian Diaspora, including the United States, South Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom, all incorporated into a singular room installation that includes archival photographs, publications, and ephemera representing over a hundred South Asian women artists from the history of the groundbreaking nonprofit art organization. The artwork selected for this exhibition also prioritizes decorative and identity-based concepts as a way to examine the trajectory of feminist art, from Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro’s collaborative Womanhouse (1972) to the recent seminal exhibition about the invisible “other” at the Tate Britain museum in 2011 (Thin Black Line(s): Moments and Connections), and locate its relevance in contemporary media and culture.
Her Stories includes recurring themes such as self-portraiture, with women imagining themselves as goddesses, dead queens, cats, fathers, and cyborgs. Employing embroidery, digital manipulation, automated techniques, and other processes, artists Chitra Ganesh, Jaishri Abichandani, Nazneen Ayyub Wood, Aisha Abid Hussain, Pooneh Maghazehe, Jayna Mistry, Mona Kamal, and Swati Khurana present emotive images of varying historic registers. Annu Matthew, Anjali Bhargava, Sabelo Narasimhan, and Mariam Ghani offer photographs of bodies that suggest racial associations.
Also on display are Yamini Nayar’s images that incorporate miniature model sets photographed by large-scale cameras; her point of departure from personal signifiers to formal concerns is apparent in the selected work. The idea of the miniature is echoed throughout the exhibition via the small scale of most of the works presented; the installation is in direct reference to South Asian art historic traditions. The transformation of traditionally segregated female spaces into self-directed feminist ones is evidenced in the works of Roya Farassat, Samira Abbassy, Sa’dia Rehman, and Nida Abidi. These intense images are countered by the more meditative pieces by Nandini Chirimar, Samanta Batra Mehta, Tara Sabharwal, and Kaveri Raina.
Sculptures and installations by Vandana Jain, Indrani Ashe, Hayat Gul, Fariba Alam, Marcy Chevali, Monica Jahan Bose, and Pallavi Sharma occupy the walls, ceiling, and corners, while Ruby Chishti’s large sculpture of a cow with an oversized tap for a head commands the floor, leaving each surface of the room adorned with artworks and a library installation of books by female South Asian authors.
A full-color catalogue accompanies this exhibition, and there will be a selection of films, video and animation works on display inside the installation.
Her Stories is curated by Jaishri Abichandani and assistant curator Josheen Oberoi.
Exhibiting Artists: Samira Abbassy, Jaishri Abichandani, Nida Abidi, Fariba Alam, Indrani Ashe, Shelly Bahl, Anjali Bhargava, Monica Jahan Bose, Marcy Chevali, Nandini Chirimar, Ruby Chishti, Poulomi Desai, Mariam Ghani, Roya Farassat, Chitra Ganesh, Hayat Gul, Aisha Abid Hussain, Vandana Jain, Mona Kamal, Jesal Kapadia, Asma Kazmi, Tara Kelton, Amber Khokhar, Sarita Khurana, Swati Khurana, Pooneh Maghazehe, Annu Mathew, Samanta Batra Mehta, Jayna Mistry, Sabelo Narasimhan, Yamini Nayar, Bhanu Palam, Shruti Parekh, Amruta Patil, Kaveri Raina, Sa’dia Rehman, Tara Sabharwal, Sadia Salim, Negin Sharifzadeh (Moss), Pallavi Sharma, Meenakshi Thirukode, Anahita Vossoughi, Nazneen Ayyub Wood.
The South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC) is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the advancement, visibility, and development of emerging and established South Asian women artists and creative professionals by providing a physical and virtual space to profile their creative and intellectual work across disciplines. SAWCC has served South Asian women since 1997 and has earned a reputation for showcasing cutting-edge work that deals intelligently with issues of gender and cultural representation.