Remembering with your sensesReena Saini Kallat (b. 1973) lives and works in Mumbai. Walls of the Womb is a personal and autobiographical work. Kallat lost her mother when she was eight and grew up in close contact with her mother’s belongings. The associations with motherhood are carried through the symbolic usage of the red saris collectively forming an intimate space of recollections. The writing on the saris in braille is recipes from the mother’s handwritten cookery book, made through the process of tie-dye. The ‘braille’ is illegible, and it thus becomes a metaphor of her mother’s own absence.
The word ‘sari’ comes from Sanskrit and quite simply means ‘a strip of cloth’. The well known Indian garment is at least 3000 years old, and it has many functions and meanings. Among other things, Indian mothers wrap saris around their daughter’s waists as a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.
Bharti Kher (b. 1969) was born in London to Indian parents. She lives and works in New Delhi. One of her leitmotifs is the bindi, a marker worn on the forehead by both women and men that signifies the third eye. confess is a south Indian bridal chamber which she has covered on the inside with bindis as a living surface or text code.
One could imagine that an Indian woman has been sitting here alone in the intimate chamber before her wedding, confessing her secrets, aspirations and desires to the silent walls. Is the room an antechamber to happiness, or is it a claustrophobic cell? Perhaps the bindis are a story of her life so far. What patterns would your thoughts draw on the walls?