Review /

In Order to Join CSMVS and Goethe-Institute / Mumbai

“In Order to Join,” curated by Swapna Tamhane and Susanne Titz, borrows its title from Rummana Hussain’s exhibition held at Art in General, New York, in 1998. Inspired by Rummana Hussain’s work A Space for Healing from 1999 (which also acts as a circular beginning for the viewer), the exhibition, which traveled from the Museum Abteiberg in Germany, was here divided between two spaces — Max Muller Bhavan (Goethe-Institute) and the museum Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS). Beginning at Max Muller Bhavan, the works comprised videos, documented performances and conceptual works that translated the medium of found materials into new ways of thinking about art (Rummana Hussain, A Space for Healing, 1999; Sheela Gowda, Branches, 2014; Jamelie Hassan, The Oblivion Seekers, 1985/2009). The exhibition display intervened onto the lawns of the museum (Pushpamala N., Triptych, 2003; Helen Chadwick, Piss Flowers, 1991–92) and into the vitrines in the central rotunda. The display allowed for artworks to be placed and preserved within a historical timeframe, in order to join archive and memory.

The notion of being different and responding to change during a time of suppression is conveyed through the works of fourteen women artists (born between 1947–57) in the form of explorations of identity through their bodies (Rummana Hussain, Mona Hatoum, Pushpamala N.); the expansion of artistic media through found objects and organic materials (Rosemarie Trockel, Sheela Gowda, Helen Chadwick, Astrid Klein); and revised definitions of existing beliefs and forms (Ana Mendieta, Angela Grauerholtz, Chohreh Feyzdjou, Jamelie Hassan, Shelagh Keeley, Adrian Piper, Lala Rukh). These strongly individualistic artists’ works were curatorially hinged together by their overlapping relationships to political activism and conceptual art. The show extended to issues related to socio-cultural-political histories, ethnographic references, nationalism, feminism, representation, identity, activism, language, religion, systems, gender, family and belonging, all the while “working with and against the possibility of joining.”

by Veeranganakumari Solanki