bis 06.04. | #2404ARTatBerlin | Michael Reid präsentiert aktuell die Ausstellung “She wrapped a bandage around her eyes and vowed to share the darkness” der Künstlerin Sangeeta Sandrasegar.
She wrapped a bandage around her eyes and vowed to share the darkness is an installation of 101 delicate paper cut-outs that draws upon characters in the Indian Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and continues Sangeeta Sandrasegar’s interpretation of various passages within this text. Using light and shadow as a formal motif, Sandrasegar gives voice to identities caught on the margins of society. The 101 characters that don the walls of Michael Reid Berlin reference Wayang Kulit, an Indonesian form of puppet theatre. Taking inspiration from the assimilation of Indian’s and Chinese in Indonesia, and the Wayang Kulit’s common reference of the Mahabharata, Sandrasegar intentionally provides an intercultural symbol for this installation.
She wrapped a bandage around her eyes and vowed to share the darkness takes its title from the vow of blindness that the character Ghandari takes upon her arranged marriage to Dhritarashtra, the blind king of Hastinapura in the Mahabharata. Ghandari’s devotion to her husband is rewarded with a boon to have 100 children. After a long gestation of two or more years, Ghandari gives birth to an unliving mass. The sage who granted her this boon takes up the mass saying he will turn it into 100 sons, but upon seeing the distress expressed in Ghandari’s blindfolded face he offers her one daughter. The mass is then divided into 101 pieces to incubate in earthen pots filled with ghee.
The Mahabharata revolves around the lives of men and gods, culminating in a war between two families of cousins, the Pandava’s and Kaurava’s, that finally leads to the death of the entire house of 100 male Kaurava brothers (Ghandari’s sons). Whilst the text is proliferated with wives, mothers, sisters and lovers; women often take peripheral roles within the vast content and literature of the thousand-year-old texts. Whilst male lives are detailed and explicated, female lives are often left indistinct and ambiguous despite their actions circumscribing major events. Whilst men have their teachers, sages and gods to debate their choices with, females are depicted as autonomous and remote actors.
The episode of Ghandari giving birth to a leaden mass and her vow of blindness provoke a fascinating vision. Sandrasegar questions who created this story, why a female is portrayed in this way, and what quality of resolve or desire does it involve. From an unknowable, unspeakable mass one hundred sons and one daughter are created into subjects that can see and describe. A great act of transference and transformation – perhaps to explore Gandhari’s vision is to begin to describe an unknowable scene.
The paper medium in Sandrasegar’s installation of Ghandari’s 100 sons and one daughter, replicates another visual language. Creating silhouettes which are pierced with braille-like intricate detail, Sandrasegar illustrates that there are multiple ways of viewing the world and this finally is the crux of the Mahabharata. Having spent the last two years in Germany, Sandrasegar draws upon the many cultures influencing her work. Collectively these influences and the themes explored in She wrapped a bandage around her eyes and vowed to share the darkness, reveal that understanding, acceptance and interpretation of vision are never complete – it is continuously answerable to something else we may not be able to see.
Exhibition period: Friday, 1st March – Saturday, 6th April 2019Zur Galerie Michael Reid
Image caption: Courtesy Michael Reid Berlin – Sangeeta Sandrasegar, Installation View
Exhibition Sangeeta Sandrasegar – Michael Reid | Contemporary Art Berlin – Exhibitions Berlin Galleries | ART at Berlin