Gender bender

Alisha Shinde
Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The Labeless exhibition, organised by TIFA Working Studios, will explore the subject of intimacy through the works of multi-disciplinary artists

The term ‘intimacy’ has come to connote many meanings, starting with one’s body, experiencing vulnerability, gender and sexuality. Social media and pop culture has pushed the discussion on the subject of sexuality from the periphery to the centre stage. The access to information on gender, sexuality and their spectrums and performatives has increased rapidly. But does the availability of information necessarily induce social sensitisation, especially towards queer intimacy?

The Labeless exhibition, which will be held at TIFA Working Studios, under its ‘Futures of Sexuality Festival’ asks what intimacy means today and how will it adapt to possible futures. 

The exhibition will explore the subject through the works of multi-disciplinary artists like Aditya Verma, Chaitanya Modak, Clare Chong, Isha Itwala, Ishita Savla, Lipika Bhargava, Nachiket Prakash, Pulkit Mogha, Sandeep TK, Sandrine Deumier, Surabhi Chowdhary and Zander Porter. We talk to a few artists about their take on intimacy. 

Chaitanya Modak, a Pune-based illustrator who will be performing his concrete poem, ‘Disturbing’, explains that the poem is actually an arrangement of linguistic elements in a typographical format. “In my poem, the typographical effect is more important in conveying the meaning than the verbal significance. It is a love poem which focuses on the emotions of longing, hurting, hating and healing. For every individual, the surroundings and words in any context or event, have different meanings and implications. Hence ‘intimacy’ can be used to describe any action whatsoever — couple of flowers together, the waves touching the sand on the beach, being close to someone. They all are acts of intimacy with different perspectives,” says Modak. 

As a part of the reading room, Modak will also give the audience a peek into the illustrated comic called The Manual of Love. He explains that the comic delves into the things that were never taught to anyone but were pushed onto people as behavioural patterns from their peers and parents. “We live in world where certain things are planted into us to make us feel bad or guilty about ourselves. Toddlers  running around the house naked is not a bad thing but a pure act of innocence. But the elders in the family react to it and ask the child to cover up and make him feel shameful. The Manual of Love wants to explore the grey areas in between the epic battle of the sexes, flings, one night stands, marriages and love on the rocks. It comments on modern day relationships because it has become the need of the hour to let people just be the way they are.” 

Vadodara-based Isha Itwala believe that people gaze at a woman’s body superficially. 

“No one really considers the beautiful changes that a woman’s body undergoes indifferent stages of life. I have captured this aspect in my glass sculpture. The  sculpture titled ‘Body Fluids’ was made with the flaming technique and took about three to four months to complete. As a woman, I am aware that every woman has had her fair share of experience of being judged by people’s gaze. But a woman’s body is more than that. It is a celebration of life altogether if you think about it,” she says. 

She points out that the sculpture Body Fluids represents the concept of giving birth. “We all know it is beautiful process, but we never really know what the mother feels like from within, her pain, her relationship with the yet to be born child and the feelings attached with it. These are some of the thoughts I wanted to discuss through my art,” explains Itwala. The artist says that she wants people to look at things without being clouded by their perception. “It has become important to observe things and think about them with open mind. We are in a time, where taboo is not something that we should have to face,” she adds.

Aditya Verma from Delhi will be exhibiting 12 of his works at Labeless. His bigger called ‘Contact’, took over one and a half year to complete. Verma says that the bigger canvas is surrounded by 11 smaller works. “I have tried to highlight that any individual’s journey is made up by the choices s/he makes,” he says. 

Verma points out that the concept of Labeless beautifully fits into what he believes. “Through my work, I have always highlighted the journey of the life of queer people and about their choices, emotions and experiences that connect all of us together. The various colours used represent a variety of emotions. I have been a firm believer that all of us are queer in some way or the other, not necessarily a sexual preference. But it implies that we can identify with each other, give time and listen to the person. My idea to paint is to show the reality which is deeper than what we see in 3D, because of which my works look like abstract,” he adds. 

‘Labeless — Futures of Sexuality Festival’ will be held at TIFA Working Studios, Agarkar Nagar, from September 20-28, 6-8 pm. Tickets can be bought on Insider

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