Gallery Espace showcases 'Lv, Pony', a sequel to 'Rivers of Blood' exhibited in Mumbai in 2010 by Paula Sengupta. The solo work addresses the conflicts, contradictions, and complex politics that both bind and divide the three nations- India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Through the phenomenon of war, seen through narratives gleaned from those who fought on the front, those who remained home, and those who bear the brunt of these wars till date, the artist weaves a layered and complex collection of memorabilia.
Paula has attempted to create a museum of memory, a collection of what she terms 'war memorabilia'. Women left behind by war often took sewing and embroidery both to bide their time and retain their sanity, as also to contribute to the war effort. She endeavoured to similarly position herself, smothering stories of bloodshed and bravado in meticulous illustrative embroideries and appliques.
The artist has used colonial cross-stitch textiles, fine muslins and jamdanis from Dhaka using the nakshi kantha (a quilting technique from the districts of Bangladesh from which she hails) juxtaposed with colonial forms of embroidery such as stem-stitch, chain-stitch, and buttonhole-stitch. Material and medium thus emerge as strong signifiers in the building of this narrative.
The texts and audios are drawn from a variety of sources including the reminiscences of Indian army officers who served in the war of 1971 as also of ordinary civilians impacted by the war, and from Rabindranath Tagore's lyrics from Aamar Shonar Bangla that had emerged as a heroic symbol of the Bengali cultural identity during the struggle for liberation, and was adopted in 1972 as the official national anthem of the newly formed nation of Bangladesh.
About Paula Sengupta:
Paula Sengupta (born 1967) is an artist, academician, curator and writer resident in Kolkata. Trained as a traditional printmaker, Paula's repertoire as an artist includes broadsheets, artist's books, objects, installation-performance work, and community art projects. A doctorate in the history of Indian printmaking at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, Paula educated in painting and printmaking at the College of Art, New Delhi and at Kala Bhavana, Santiniketan. She is currently Assistant Professor in Printmaking at Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata, and is Secretary of Khoj Kolkata. She has taught as Guest Faculty at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kolkata in the past.