Friday 16 August 2019

ART & SOUL : Text Part III: Subaltern Sexuality-Body as Text

 ‘In literary theory, a text is any object that can be “read”, whether this object is a work of literature, a street sign, an arrangement of buildings on a city block or styles of clothing. It is a coherent set of signs that transmits some kind of informative message […]’ explains Wikipedia.
Recent work by Sudharak Olwe 
In contemporary Indian art we continue to evolve the genre of the human figure or portraiture as representations of our culture and its unspoken dimensions. The photographic portraitures may represent new dimensions of ( trans) sexuality, gender, queer groups or focus the unspoken through the subaltern. My focus is the gaze of the protagonist in the picture should meet the onlooker.     

Every human being experiences a discreet sexuality which is silently there, often in all human actions and expressions. Often these experiences are repressed, except gentle suggestions in human conversations. Sexuality is deeply silenced or means “layers of silencing” in common human experiences. Spaces and right to conversation about one’s sexuality/ sexual identity are few and nil  especially for the subalterns (economically, culturally and socially dispossessed). Consequently, “speech as expressions of sexuality” and ruthless violence are deeply entwined. 

Sexuality forms an important aspect of human identity. The discourse on sexuality breaks on the experiences of the “materiality” of the human body. There is no other consequence that shapes one’s sexuality than the materiality of the human body. How is one to negotiate these transforming inwardly human experiences during childhood-puberty onwards? What is the nature of subaltern sexuality? How does it manifest itself as a poignant reflection of the self for most humans? In “Subaltern Sexuality: Body as Text” one may be able to read the deeply unspoken, through-in the bodies of the protagonists. The incredible voices from within- its manifestation as a poetic content of the world or home (within) plays with inevitable control through punishments and silenced power abuses.
Sudharak Olwe  at Art & Soul Mumbai ( image source sudharak owle fb image) 

Sexuality is a bundle of energy when politicized- gets recognized in the “queer moment/s” that any given social/cultural space creates, making aware of one’s emerging/ transforming sexual identity. Several such moments become really poignant for oneself to observe also the rupture from within. A tearing inner voice acquires within as the gaze returned (looking at the camera lens). Often the bare gaze of the protagonist is layered and poetic with these expressions. The visuals are subtle and strong manifesting the unspoken in their meeting of gaze with the onlooker.   

Shubhalakshmi Shukla

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