Encompassing ‘virtual visits’ to studios and museums, this Course will re-dress definitions of femininity, masculinity and the in-between in contemporary South Asian art. It will show how conventional notions of gender have been re-vamped by artists in South Asia and its diasporas. The idea of the ‘demure’ South Asian woman haunts the popular imagination; both in the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. Alternatively covered up (behind the veil) or exposed as a sexy fetish for an Orientalizing male gaze, she is de-nuded of agency. In fact, stereotypes notwithstanding, the Indian and Pakistani artworlds are dominated by women artists, collectors, gallerists and theorists.
Starting from the British Raj’s de-masculinisation of the South Asian male body, lectures will go on to discuss how Indian and Pakistani artists riff on (and traverse) gender roles. We will encounter artworks as diverse as the miniature-inspired offerings of Pakistani New Yorker Shahzia Sikander, the cartographic ruminations of the late ‘diasporic’ print-maker Zarina Hashmi and Indian Nalini Malani’s video-shadow plays, governed by powerful female protagonists. Fashion-centred, feminist fun will ensue!