CONA EK ADDA: Afternoon meet with Himanshu S. & Mansi Bhatt - CONA
This particular presentation we specifically wanted to talk about our collective activities in the public spaces and in neighbourhoods under-going forceful change, our work as 'bombay underground' and 'dharavi art room', also our self-publishing activities and public interventions.
So although I have been an integral part of all the activities and also the initiator, these all activities are still about collective work, and they are what has taken over / mingled into my practice. Would love to some day come and talk about my over-all practice, whenever you invite later, but this time we will love it for and represent the collective work. So aqui and me will do the presentation together open up some plans for people to participate in near and distant future attaching a write-up about bombay underground also attaching my C.V. What is the time frame we have, also you could share this link if people want to go and see some of bombay underground's work from the past, definitely there is more to us also will love if there is a wide range of practicing artists too, don't want to make it just a discourse for the students.
Mansi Bhatt's work locates itself within the world of performance and photography. The characters that she inhabits in her work are drawn from a combination of reality and fiction. Her practice has evolved over the last ten years and has included solo shows in India and the United States as well as residencies at various spaces including the renowned Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh in 2007 and The Watermill Center in New York in 2005. The staging of the photographs are usually extraordinarily elaborate tableaux, and in her most recent solo show, she took on the environment of small town India. A Suite was shown in September 2009. The final images are compelling as they disrupt easy readings as to what in the photographs is real and what is fictitious.
Uncertainty of objects and characters and her constant inquiry toward "belonging" are important elements to Bhatt's work, as is the idea of "travel." Her intensive performances often leave her body bruised and bleeding. For example, in her performance Bulldozer Yatra, Bhatt traveled on a bulldozer from Borivali to Azad Maidanin in Mumbai, digging the land into which she threw her own body. The piece opened many questions about territory and its negotiations.
Prosthetic and makeups have played an important part toward creating an alienated reality in Bhatt's work, and her targets have included burned-out celebrities, super heroes, and even art world insiders. This last category places Mansi in a rare category among artists in the subcontinent who have turned their gaze inwards onto the politics of the art scene as it has played out in the last decade. Her works, which have critiqued both the male domination and self-censorship in the art world, have taken on an iconic status and will undoubtedly be seen as vital art historical moments in the maturing process of the Indian art scene.
In her recent performance KALKInama at the 12th Shanghai Biennial, Bhatt presented herself as a love warrior—part Hindu god, part warrior, prat lover—inviting people to write love secrets on her satin cape.