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How to Draw a Line Without Dots (left) & Soap/Lick (right)

Anita Dube2006 (left) & 2002 (right)

Devi Art Foundation

Devi Art Foundation
Gurgaon, Haryana, India

(left) C. R. Nanaiah’s posters serve as an ironic counter to the profusion of canvassing material that one is surrounded by at the time of elections. During an artists’ residency, Nanaiah inundated public space with these cheaply printed posters, plastering them on walls alongside other election campaign posters.

Shifting the emphasis from the candidates who aspire to be leaders in public life, to the ‘dots’ or the voters who create these leaders, Nanaiah’s poster shows the ink-marked finger of the voter who has already voted. Whom he voted for remains unknown to us. This finger is triumphant, and even defiant. The collectivity of gesticulating fingers pasted on the wall might be making their irreverent gesture to us or to the politicians whose fate hinges upon their action.

(right) Every autumn, Kali is worshipped in a popular festival in Bengal, where communities sponsor clay images that will be immersed in water after ten days of worship. There is a multiplicity of ways in which the deity can be imagined. Anita Dube participates in this multiplicity by creating her own representation of the goddess.

Dube uses soap dishes to create a semblance of divinity. The fact that she uses bathroom objects is almost outrageous, as the bathroom is seen as an unclean space where divinity should not enter. Yet the bathroom is also connected with ritual, as it is the space where one is cleansed before worship.

For Soap/Lick, Dube stacks a column of seven soap dishes. They are identical, apart from a small protrusion in front that grows progressively larger from top to bottom. This small change is crucial to the work, as this protrusion looks like a tongue, a symbol of Kali. A trident passes through all seven soap dishes, another emblem of Kali. Thus Dube represents the Goddess without having to attribute to her the human characteristics of a face and a body. Covered with red velvet, the soap dishes lose their everyday connotation. The colour red is also associated with divinity, with Kali who spills the blood of the demon and with divinity in general due to the use of kumkum (vermillion) during worship.

Details

  • Title: How to Draw a Line Without Dots (left) & Soap/Lick (right)
  • Creator: CR Nanaiah (left) & Anita Dube (right)
  • Date: 2006 (left) & 2002 (right)
  • Location: Devi Art Foundation
  • Physical Dimensions: 15 inches x 22 inches (left) & 7 inches x 14 inches x 36 inches (right)
  • Type: Photograph
  • Method or Style: Print on newsprint paper (left) & Ceramic, velvet and metal (right)

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