November 21 to November 28
Making of List of Things, 2023
November 14 to November 21
Our futures remain precarious, 2023
October 24 to October 31
July 25 to August 1
Today, Tomorrow, 2023, Digital print
I woke up having forgotten which way to turn the key to my door.
It was as though somebody had taken apart pieces of me while I had been asleep, only to put me back together, like a puzzle; and in the process had misplaced one of the pieces. So irrelevant it had been, that the puzzle looked complete enough without it, and the solver just walked away shrugging.
Or maybe it was an accident on a microscopic scale, concerning a couple trillion neurons and synapses, and a single fallen martyr.
It was the strangest feeling, a singular brick knocked out of me. An abrupt disrupting of everyday rhythm, a river suddenly plucked from the ground and shaken from one end like straightening a bedsheet. I wonder if there was something I did to induce this strange phenomenon. Did I sleep too little, or too much? Did I hit my head accidentally or grind my teeth a little too hard? I might have dwelled in that intermediate space between sleep and wakefulness, where sight is blurry and breaths are scarce.
I may wake up tomorrow with a new loss, one that must be unearthed and stolen from deep within my bones, one that hides in gestures, in my body; the treasure chest.
I may forget
the time my body wakes itself up each morning.
Or the persistence of morning light that fills the room and pours into my eyelids.
I may forget
the feeling of the weighted blanket that holds me in its cocoon
how much I yearn for that weight on my body that is without purpose or promise.
I may forget
to put people on pedestals.
the quick short breaths I take before entering a room full of people.
I may forget
how my handwriting betrays me, as I put down thoughts to solidify and validate,
the letters that sense my uncertainty and begin to tremble and shrink.
I may forget
the way I dissolve my own speech, garnishing my lines with ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’,
sprinkled like pepper on lemonade, only ever allowing the listener small sips.
If I could do it again I would, and shed these memories buried into my skin appearing as habits, reflexes and instincts. Like a wet dog shaking vigorously so that droplets of water on its body bounce away in a triumphant cascade.
June 13 to June 20
What I have is the memory of staring at mosaic tiles with an unfocused gaze, and watching them turn to waves.
June 6 to June 13
Fractured skies, 2023
Never before had I possessed a piece of sky so vast that it may be fractured.
May 30 to June 6
How to make a house of threads
Find a corner on the floor.
Think about what it would be like to make a house of threads, sit with the idea for a while, think about the (im)possibilities.
Construct a house from memory, an old home, a part of a home, an imagined home or any other place that comes to mind.
Cut four pieces of thread equally to make a wall, or a floor, or a window. Use any glue to stick them together making a shape closely resembling a square. Start adding threads to one side of the square and keep going till you reach the end of the square.
You will have to wash your hands constantly during this process only to use more glue and repeat the same. It is an exercise in futility however you can use this time to think of other futile exercises.
You may cut one thread and stick it, then cut another. Or cut many threads and stick them all at once. Remember, there is no correct way to do it.
As you add more and more threads create a complete picture of your house in your mind.
Make negotiations with the thread.
Feel the texture of the thread changing and think about whether the essence of the thread has been transformed in the process.
If you are wondering whether your structure is going to be stable, know that your house of threads may outlast others.
April 4 to April 11
Sinking into, Delhi, 2023
February 21 to February 28
I feel the need to mark this house that I have lived most of my life in; for what else do I have left as testimony that I once lived here for many years between several other occupants. I wish for something tangible to identify this house as my home, albeit a temporary home. A mark is personal, like a scar that holds memories, something to tie my living body to this cement body. When I say goodbye to my home, soon not to be, what I would reliably find beneath my feet, a firm ground of concrete mosaic, suddenly turns to water.
November 1 to November 8
To the unconceived,
I write this letter to you, the unconceived child, unfolding for you, a world in which you have not yet been born. You have been looming over me in a spectral nature for my entire life. Yet, I do not know who exactly it is that I am addressing.
Where are you located? Are you just an idea, a thought, or the expectation of an entire community, not just my own?
I write this letter to you, to your potential existence, not only from my side. The wishes, desires and hopes of everyone else will be conveyed to you. The society, state, the nation, employers, doctors and priests are all interested and invested. For them, it is perhaps natural for you to be born, inevitable; anything else would be unnatural. They say that you cannot be forever unconceived, yet they put forth conditions for your existence in the same breath.
My body has been making possibilities of a child all my life. And every month, my body hopes and prepares for a child, not knowing anything about the world it is living in. My body is indifferent to the polluted air I must breathe and the rising heat on my skin. It is indifferent to the world that awaits the successful result, a world that will be quick to label it into rigid categories; that will constantly force it to comply with the expectations of its gender; that will not tolerate the mixing of blood and joining of wrong surnames.
Blissfully ignorant, my body continues to hope. And then bleed in disappointment. I wish I could tell my body to put an end to this monthly hope, just stop and stare at the world outside my body. Perhaps then, I could save all the disappointment. They say my body is apparently on its way to decay. The biological clock is rapidly ticking above me, and thus you, the unconceived, have been haunting me.
October 11 to October 18
October 4 to October 11
(Take) care (of)
September 27 to October 4
September 13 to September 20
February 22 to March 1
There is so much to carry on my body
Digital print 2022
February 15 to February 22
Sowing seeds, 2022
March 8 to March 16
December 8 to December 15
The saree, which is the traditional Indian woman’s attire, is rarely found in black. It is considered an inauspicious colour for an occasion such as an Indian wedding. For me the black saree in this work is specifically a bride’s saree. In India, it is necessary for all married women to wear a chain made of black and gold beads called a ‘Mangalsutra’, never to be removed as long as they are married. It is the symbol of a marriage only carried by women. I used Mangalsutras and reformed them into vaginas, stitched as motifs on the black saree. The motifs, perfect at first, are shifting and becoming unmade and broken along the end of the saree. Marriage tends to be a focal point of an Indian woman’s life and she is expected to be a virgin until marriage. As marital rape is not recognized as a crime in India, women’s bodies are not their own and are controlled by conservative patriarchal rules of the society. Draping the black saree with vaginas, for me becomes a space to escape narratives written for us and reclaim our bodies.
November 24 to December 01
The painting is a part of a series of hand gestures used in wedding rituals. The pattern on the hands is derived from the mehendi or henna pattern which is drawn on the bride’s palm. In these paintings the decorative pattern is a silver sheen on the hand. It is what causes an erasure and breaks the form of the hand. Thinking about marking as an act, and in the very act of marking one is erasing. It seems non-violent but may not be. It is quiet and unsuspecting, so much that what is being erased in the process doesn’t mind it so much or even put up a fight. It lets itself get consumed.
Maithili Bavkar is an artist based in India. She completed her MA in Visual Arts from Ambedkar University, Delhi. In her practice, she often engages with the uncanny through various mediums, including fictional allegories, poems, sound, video, and explores alternate possibilities for speakabilities through artistic interventions. Maithili Bavkar was part of ‘Chi Chi’ exhibition curated by Shivanjani Lal at Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney, Australia, “Turf Water” group exhibition, ARTBAT FEST, Almaty, Kazakhstan and a solo exhibition ‘Black Brides’ in Clark House Initiative, Mumbai in 2018.