Figure It Out mixed media, 2020
With this installation, Divya reflects on her post-colonial identity and tries to redress language erasure due to long colonisation. Having felt like she was missing a limb by not knowing how to read and write her own mother tongue Tamil, she started learning it from scratch during the lockdown. The large fleshy alphabet squares act as portals that link her personal history to the history of her ancestors. The work involved in making of the alphabets with the hours of sewing and filling is the reflection of the struggle in learning of a script that is familiar yet not. The tracing of the alphabet is also reflected in the stitch tracing along the old photos of her family members.
The intimate family photo montage presented on the ‘Madras Checks’ fabric is a nod to another story of colonisation with the design of the unique madras checks having being developed in Madras (now renamed Chennai) in the 1700s and exported to Europe and America where it still is a mark of high fashion and status but with no royalties given to the textile weavers in its country of origin.
The video is an original choreography and performance routine by the dancers that is the result of a collaboration between the artist and classical dancers from the Tamil community in London.
Computer Numerically Controlled Nose 65 x 40 cms, 2020
It was during the industrial revolution and the major development of cities and modern lifestyles that was thought to cause lethargy or melancholy, leading to hysteria. At the time female patients sought medical practitioners for the treatment of hysteria. The rate of hysteria was so great in the socially restrictive industrial period that women were prone to carry smelling salts about their person in case they swooned, reminiscent of using odors to coerce the uterus back into place.
Wilhelm Fliess, an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Fliess, whom Freud had called “the Kepler of biology”, had developed theories today considered pseudoscientific, including the belief that sexual problems were linked to the nose by a supposed nasogenital connection. Fliess had been treating “nasal reflex neurosis” by cauterizing the inside of the nose under local anaesthesia.
NO Series 2020
Series of photographs of five women painted with the word that translates to a NO in their mother tongue. This was exhibited in the VIAF art fair in Sweden in October 2020.
Truth Lies Somewhere Between Zero and One mixed media, 2019
This installation was an attempt at understanding the current mood of the events in the world we are experiencing. In her quest for understanding, Divya was introduced to the work of Jacques Derrida’s work and his contribution to the notion of ‘Post Modernism’. Postmodernism does not trust any one story or account to give meaning to all of life. It is not a rejection of truth but a rejection of totalizing truth. It does not recognize one capital T truth as in something that is universal, something that has to be accepted or you are considered irrational. Derrida through his ‘deconstruction’ says postmodernism is the quest for justice. It is afraid of people who have power over a single narrative about T (Truth). It is sympathetic to the marginalized, those that do not have the power over the T narrative. He is saying this but could mean that. We invent these things called binaries; good/bad, right /wrong, gay/straight. The installation used the binary of computer code 0 and 1 to visualise the idea.
Bending of Time video projection, digital print, 2019
In this work Divya explores the cyclical nature of time and relationships. She tries to express, in a non-sentimental way, the surreal nature of time’s unrelenting movement away from us, and how we have to catch ourselves at certain milestones, to remind ourselves of time going by. She attempts to capture the essence of one such milestone.
She enlarged an old photo of her mother that was taken just before she was born and made an installation, superimposing a video of herself standing (still) in front of the life sized photograph. When the one minute video ends and loops again there is a pause of 3 seconds where one can glimpse the photo behind her just for those two seconds.
Divya references her mother here because she feels really that the post partum state is never over. It is in a space of continuum, the child and mother moving further away, always connected, ever closer, always in flux. She looks back into the past trying to make sense of the chronology of events, relationships with a sense of regret and pride but also ahead looking forward to her own child’s future, possibilities and adventure.
Shorthand of Truth tracing paper, ink, screenprint 2018
This work is a continuation of the earlier work called ‘Truth is somewhere between zero and one’. This is her attempt to address the so-called ‘post truth’ era where opinions and arguments are rather unmoored from demonstrable truths about the world. The last decade has seen an explosion of the ubiquitousness of social media in our lives today. News spreads through the internet unchecked and uncontrolled without anyone knowing where they originated. Nobody tracks your reliability. We are back in the world of rumour and gossip. ‘I believe what I read because I trust the people I have chosen to follow’.
The installation uses Pitman Shorthand that is in self was a kind of invented script. It has a distinct script of its own that is legible to only those who have learnt it but is indecipherable to people who have not.
The work consists of two layers of tracing paper with the top layer having the shorthand script reminiscent of calligraphy and this was draped over the layer with English text on it. The length of the scrolls is five metres and this was hung from the ceiling down to the floor. From a distance one can only read the shorthand ‘letters’ but as you go closer the English text becomes more legible though faint as it is stood behind the first layer of paper.
Cutting into the Past 2018
This work was conceived and performed in May 2018 coinciding with the Royal wedding of Harry and Megan. It was also the 70th anniversary of the Indian independence and its partition. The mythical Indian God was painted on the Union Jack and then as a performance display the flag was cut into strips to reflect the dividing of the country and it’s consequent violence and trauma. The figure is peppered with text, poetry and reflections.
Womb Tomb installation with wood, wool, found object, clay and wall paper prints, 2018
Womb Tomb started off as a response to the tragedy of boats carrying migrants sinking killing so many people, Divya decided to actually construct a small boat. This led to an evolution of ideas that gave voice to her ideas around femininity and the private sphere, reproductive rights of women and the politics around house work.
Montage of experimental photos for the Womb Tomb project. These photos led to the imaginary script wallpaper for the installation.