s you bend on your knees to carefully read the minute handwriting on the wall, you confront the power of grief — its ability as an equaliser to dictate and transmute. This faculty of grief is solemnly expressed in the Indian Diaspora artist Amina Ahmed's installation, Prayer I, with a large cushion and a microscope in front of it. The microscope is to be employed to read the tiny verses hand written on the wall, which was penned by Amina's friend in response to an Indian boy's suicide in America — the adverse step was taken when his homosexuality was found out.
Thus, the coming out, marginality and celebration of multiplicities — all become threads woven around the theme of sexuality and gender in this one of a kind exhibition titled 'Can you see me?' Put together by the Indian chapter of Engendered, a New York based organisation, the group works on the complex realities of gender and sexuality in the South Asian Diaspora, in Shahpur Jat. Nine artists come together to lend their voices and explore the perspectives in a series of art works and installations.
||Galleries have problems exhibiting works related to sexuality. For us, the question of gender and sexuality entails a wide gambit. We consider ourselves a political and aesthetic organisation.
— Myna Mukherjee
A fathoming of the 'self' and through that the 'other' is flamboyantly portrayed in Balbir Krishan's suite of paintings, which unabashedly celebrate homo-erotic relationships and lovemaking. One of his works on display, This life is not dark, is a response to the attack on him and his solo exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademy. Notions of the normative are very creatively engaged to emphasise and subvert in Sandip Kuriakose's untitled work. His seemingly regular photograph showing man and woman as a symbol of the ideal heterosexual relationship takes peculiar proportions when one learns that both the people involved in the picture are queer.
For Satadru Sovan, reality and cyber space are areas of deliberation. His works employ familiar Delhi landmarks like the Qutub Minar and the Statesman building as phallic symbols. "I have employed landmarks from Delhi primarily because I'm currently based here. I wanted to explore the idea of cyber space and the option of fostering multiple relationships within that space. Lot of times, online profiles manufacture identities that are completely different from reality. I wanted to this sort of liquefied terrain of cyber space," he says. Satyakam Saha's evocative visual imagery employing luminous counterposed cones emblematise the coming together of the male and female — Yin and Yang — in creation.
For Myna Mukherjee, director and founder of Engendered, the exhibition and engendered is a critical intervention to generate spaces for artistic expression specifically pertaining to gender and sexuality. "We wanted to create a multi-disciplinary space where a conversation between artists working with various mediums was possible. Moreover, galleries have problems exhibiting works related to sexuality. For us, the question of gender and sexuality entails a wide gambit. We consider ourselves a political and aesthetic organisation," she says.