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Queer art exhibition visibilises voices on the margin

IANS  |  New Delhi 

For a visual arts exhibition mounted at the American Centre, art is about challenging the status quo and breaking free from dominant ideas. The "ME WE" exhibition, put together by Myna Mukherjee, celebrates 25 voices, self-identified as

The diverse works span paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos, sci-fi fantasia, comic-book graphic art and

"Whatever is different from status quo is what is. Queer art is really a wide rainbow-like umbrella of different kinds of thoughts. It is arts that change art practice and status quo of that point in time," Mukherjee said.

The exhibition is a "joint effort of 34 Delhi-based embassies" towards universalising human rights and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community during International Pride month, a statement said.

The artists featured in the exhibition work at the intersections of identity and life experience.

The list of artists includes iconic photographers like and Sonia Khurana, as well as established artists like Balbir Krishan, Valay Gada, and

Emerging art feminists like Gopa Trivedi, Manmeet Devgun and Gargi Chandola and radical youth voices like and and also find space in the exhibition.

Works of new artists working at the intersection of religion and sexuality like Aaamir Rabbani & Adil Kalim, and young women artists from the northeast like Jenny TS and Baishali Chetia, are also exhibited at "ME WE", among others.

There was also a launch of a community library for LGBTQ+ young adults named 'Resonance through Reading' at "ME WE".

It has fiction and non-fiction books, reports, academic journals, periodicals and brochures in which "they can see representations of themselves, as well as read about issues specific to growing up or being bi, gay, lesbian, trans or otherwise non-conforming or queer".

The mini library of 80 books, brought together by the Bi Collective of will also be housed at the for the entire duration of the exhibition.

Sumiran Kabir Sharma, whose installation is inspired by Mahabharata character Shikhandi, has placed it in a passage where ways part for men's and women's restrooms, signifying the worldwide struggle of transgender people to find bathrooms.

Explaining his work, he said, "We're all queer in our own little ways, and we find that once we cross a veil of denial -- the restrictions in society and our own selves -- that holds us back. There is a magnifying mirror placed here because we are always finding ourselves".

He added that when we find the queer in ourselves, we relate to whatever characters we call queer.

"In India, any alternative or sexuality, or just sexuality in general, is so invisibilised, that anything to do with body, desire or women's desire automatically falls under queer art. Queer identity has also moved away from just sexuality-based identity to a more intersectional identity, incorporating class, gender, caste," Mukherjee explained.

Mukherjee is the director of Engendered, a transnational arts and human rights organisation, and believes that we're living in "times of shrinking spaces and rising invisibilities, so this exhibition was really important."

The exhibition, put together in 10 days, illuminates the "complex landscape of gender, pleasure, fantasy and desire here, today, now".

The expressed concern over artists self-censoring themselves and visual culture becoming hegemonic. To counter this, she said: "The time is to be explicit and the time is now."

The exhibition is open for public display till July 8.



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, June 28 2018. 14:42 IST