Sheela Gowda Behold Essay

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Throughout history, art has been created by the material most easily available to the artists. Spanning the globe, certain marbles, pigments, and clays define cultural artifacts. However, within the traditional western world, art transformed into a strict vocation and a hierarchy of materials such as oil paint and marble became the pinnacle substances of genius. As a rebuttal against the institutional canon began in the mid-19th century, artists have combined various materials in order to articulate expression and commentary on the changing political and social spheres. In addition, the material used for a piece of art has become as important in the narration of the work as the subject itself. The contemporary Indian artist, Sheela Gowda, uses unusual mediums, such cow dung, human hair, and found objects, as a source of commentary on the labor of marginalized people of India. Through formal and cultural analysis, Jessica Morgan, in her article Material Concern, inspects various works created by Gowda and argues that there is vital importance between the unity of material and substance within her oeuvre. Drawing on biographic…show more content…
The narrative of Behold is told exclusively by the mediums of its creation. Ropes of human hair are tied around car bumpers and are then suspended and cast throughout the exhibition space. The materials are in strict juxtaposition with each other, for the car bumper is industrial and smooth, while the human hair is organic and coarse. Gathering insight from cultural observations, Morgan notes the commonality of superstition in southern Indian life, “where people tie human hair around their bumper to ward of danger and accidents”. In addition, Gowda is commenting on the hair industry in India and how a sacred ritual is then commercialized for profit to the western
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