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Artist Profile1
Exploring the self, gender, sexuality and fundamental human concerns
In her unusual works of art, natural materials and organic forms play a significant role. Employing various found objects sourced from the diverse realms of craft, industry and the body, coupled with readymade objects, she investigates basic human concerns related to personal & societal loss/ regeneration. The intriguing installations can thus be contextualized in relation to rather ponderous topical things.

Anita Dube’s aesthetic language incorporates ubiquitous objects, everyday materials and images that together resonate with a meaning far beyond perceived local and prosaic associations. Her work brings together experiences of mortality, desire, pain and pleasure – all rolled in one. Employing a variety of found objects drawn from a wide array of domains and sources like the industrial (foam, plastic, wire), the somatic (dentures, bones), craft (threads, beads, velvet, sequins, pearls), the ritual and the popular (ceramic eyes), she handles a divergent range of subjects to unveil and share her concerns.

While looking to address the curious concept of ‘skins’, she would fastidiously wrap and cover certain objects referencing fragile female concealment. The distinguishing marks suggest femaleness. Apart from this, shapes resembling nature are collated with industrial elements that act remind us of dicey environmental conditions often taken for granted by a certain section of populations, but valued by the other. She quips: "Where I come from in India, we are used to save everything; it’s re-used. The essential logic of capitalist forces is to have more, the culture of excess and hence also to generate more waste."

Born in Lucknow in 1958, she completed her graduation in History from the University of Delhi, and later did her masters (art criticism) from the Faculty of Fine Arts, M. S. University, Baroda. She was associated with the Indian Radical Painters and Sculptors Association for a while. She is not exactly religious, but inquisitive about religions, and sees them as wisdom stories that offer us knowledge and consciousness. Trained as an art critic, she avidly read different texts, not stopping with religion alone. In her own life, art started therapeutically. According to her, the therapeutic power is one of its great values. Every time you create something, you as an artist refresh and renew yourself, putting aside other things, exploring newer channels of self expression. She adds: “All of us need it - to traverse our own selves, our minds and bodies. Art makes this possible in a deep way, healing and cleaning you. You can also sensitize people, and help to become more human, bring closer to their emotions.”

The artist though, doesn’t approach her practice as an activist, as it would mean she has set a definitive agenda. In reality, she is interested in different aspects of life and existence - politics, gender and sexuality – that matter to her. She strives to explore mysterious unnamed elements that preoccupy us, looking for clear answers. Initially expressing herself as a writer, she gradually started dabbling with colors and materials, something that she found engaging so she took up art as her preferred mode of expression. This was at 30. For the next decade or so, she struggled to prove herself as an artist, but the struggle was worth it…

Among her prominent solo exhibitions are 'Kal / Tomorrow', Lakeeren, Mumbai (2010); ‘Recent Works’, Bose Pacia, New York (2008); ‘Inside Out’, Bombay Art Gallery, Mumbai (2007); ‘Phantoms of Liberty’, Gallerie Almine Rech, Paris (2007); ‘Illegal’, Nature Morte, New Delhi and Bose Pacia, New York (2005). Among her selected group exhibitions are 'Tolstoy Farm', courtesy Seven Art Gallery at LKA, Delhi; 'Conundrum', Bose Pacia, NY; 'Back to School', Palette Art Gallery, Delhi (2011); 'Indian (Sub)Way', Grosvenor Vadehra, London (2010).

Her noteworthy participations include 'Paris-Delhi-Bombay', Centre Pompidou, Paris; 'Of Gods & Goddesses', Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai; 'Collectors Stage', Singapore Art Museum (2011); 'Where Three Dreams Cross', Whitechapel Gallery, London; Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland; 'Urban Manners 2', SESC Pompeia, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2010); 'Failed Plot', part of KIAF 09 at COEX, Seoul; 'How Nations are Made', Green Cardamom, London; 'Beyond Globalization', Beyond Art Space, Beijing; 'Mythologies', Haunch of Venison, London (2009).

Paris-based Galerie Dominique Fiat recently hosted a series of her new works. A performance and gripping photographs literally ‘embodied’ words- made them flesh-wherein she cut meat into ‘Keywords’, which reflected on utopia’s and dystopia’s, affecting us. The artist extended the visible thin line wherein words would act as corporeal manifestos to analyze the world around, as seen and perceived by her. Deftly engaging the political through an astute aesthetic investigation of text as well as theory, she demonstrated apparent interest in the primacy of touch right alongside the visual.

Elaborating on the works, an introductory note stated: “In ‘Kash (for Kashmir)’, she used baroque ceiling rosettes, covering them with white velvet and then embedding them with photographs of people, landscape and flowers. Only Kash (meaning ‘hopefully’ in Hindi), is retained in the word, marred by a black dripping line of blood-filled political conflicts.” This line of thinking was the binding thread in works that investigated a human concern with both personal and societal loss and regeneration. In ‘Babel’, she presented the chaos, cacophony and disillusionment in lives presently, along with the joy, beauty and hope that made it all worthwhile.

Anita Dube has created works that point to a testing of existing perceptions. Through her work, she tackles fragmented realities - deftly or directly, as her theme demands. For instance, ‘Illegal’, a persuasive and compelling series by her, was a direct engagement with the received image, in this case, the print and television imprint of the prolonged Iraq war, of scenes of loss and degradation and a numbing sense of ubiquitous fear. Encapsulating her art processes and philosophy, she mentions that she sees some of her work executed, like in a daydream, a vision.

The artist only needs to make it real. At times, they are result of pure process, gradually unraveling. She sums up to say: “The only constant is your embracing life so that the work can materialize. There’s no stepping back, being in a cozy place of comfort. You’ve to completely soak in both the positive and negative experiences. Hence I say it’s a rather painful and difficult place to be in. You neither can hide nor lie to yourself; everything is too palpable…"