The tables have turned A shadow play

Nalini Malani2008

Biennale of Sydney

Biennale of Sydney
Sydney, Australia

Although Nalini Malani’s practice encompasses a variety of media, including painting, drawing and installation, she is respected as one of India’s first-generation video artists, and for her high sense of awareness regarding social issues and history.

Malani’s shadow play installations, including ‘The tables have turned’ A shadow play (2008), expand on the layering that appears in her paintings and drawings. The artist paints on transparent, rotating cylinders onto which light is projected, filling the room with shadows. Referencing Buddhist prayer wheels whose rotations express a desire for change, the cylinders’ revolutions and images build up a narrative of epic proportions that appears and vanishes simultaneously. Accompanied by music and text, the historical, cultural, personal and psychological elements combine to present allegories of political and ecological dangers, with images recalling the horrors of war, the industrial revolution, and the utopia/dystopia that followed.

‘The tables have turned’ A shadow play was presented in an Air Raid Shelter on Cockatoo Island, for the 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008).


  • Title: The tables have turned A shadow play
  • Creator: Nalini Malani
  • Creator Lifespan: 1946
  • Creator Nationality: Pakistani
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Creator Birth Place: Karāchi
  • Date: 2008
  • Location Created: Sydney, Australia
  • Provenance: Courtesy the artist and Bodhi Art, Mumbai
  • Type: Site Specific/Installation
  • Rights: http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/legal-privacy/
  • External Link: Biennale of Sydney
  • Medium: acrylic, Mylar, metal turntables, motors, sound, halogen lamps 20 units, each 28 cm diameter
  • Edition: 2010: 17th Biennale of Sydney: THE BEAUTY OF DISTANCE – Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age

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