Montreal Museum exhibits Indian artist’s work

The exhibition 'Nalini Malani -- Crossing Boundaries' brings three of Malani's major relevant works together at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and is open for the public viewing until August 2023.

An ongoing exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) features the works of India’s significant contemporary feminist artist Nalini Malani, whose work has addressed social inequalities and violence, especially against women, for over five decades.

The exhibition called ‘Nalini Malani: Crossing Boundaries’ consists of two video installations, and a wall drawing/erasure performance series. It will be available for viewing until August 20, 2023.

Malani who has been a part of the art industry since 1960 is recognized as the pioneer of video art in India and uses animation, theatre arts, photography, reverse painting on glass, performance art, cinema, and video, in her practice, and a lot of these elements are currently on display at the MMFA.

Crossing Boundaries brings three of her major relevant works together. The first Can You Hear Me? features 88 animations hand-drawn with Malani’s index finger. The idea of these drawings was inspired by a tragic event from 2018 where eight men raped a girl aged 8 for several days and then bludgeoned her to death. Can You Hear Me? marked Malani’s first use of digital technology to make drawings.

The second work is in an on-site wall drawing/erasure performance series called City of Desires which uses drawing and erasure to explore the politics and poetics of memory. Malani collaborated with two Montreal-based artists for drawing the mural at a busy junction in the Museum. The drawings will be erased when the exhibition closes, with a performance directed by her.

The third work is a video called Ballad of a Woman which was created specially for this exhibition. It conveys the story of a woman who was murdered, protecting her killer by erasing the traces of her death, in her afterlife. Malani wanted to symbolize the burden of self-sacrifice on women through this video installation.

The exhibition was curated by Mary-Dailey Desmarais, chief curator of the MMFA.” ‘Nalini Malani: Crossing Boundaries’ decries complacency in the face of inequality and encourages collective engagement with the most pressing concerns of our time,” Desmarais explained. “Steeped in literature, philosophy, history and mythology, Malani’s unique visual language asks us to reflect on both the beauty and the injustice in the world. The MMFA is proud to be presenting the first solo exhibition in Canada dedicated to this boldly innovative and engaged artist,” she added.

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