Indu Antony On Turning The Gaze On Queer Identity Through Art Based On Popular Media Culture
- IWB Post
- September 1, 2019
Indu Antony’s tryst with art based on queer identity and its underlying politics started around the time when the conversations in India were beginning to take the gender turn. Back then, while the gender binaries were beginning to be challenged, there was still a lot that remained unspoken.
She shares, “At one point in Bangalore there was a lot of gender related talk initiating. I am a part of the community and knew many others who shared the same affinities. We were all trying to figure out how to voice ourselves and how to spread the awareness about people like us.”
When Indu first started working on the idea of gender, the initial aim was to facilitate a conversation around it. That’s when she started with her art project Beauty In the Blur which became a great success and quickly led to Beauty in the Blur 2. Soon enough she was working on Bitch Please! and a while after that on Manifest.
While each of these projects is as unique as it can be, both in vision and execution, they are united by a single aim i.e. to queer the gaze and bring attention to the LGBTQIA+ community. Another thing that unites these projects is the way they have been conceptualized.
Indu explains, “The imagery that has been done is very loud and inspired from popular media culture. I mean, you look at a woman dressed up as Quick Gun Murgun like you will find in Manifest and definitely you are going to stop and look at it.”
An eccentric mannequin covered all over with pictures of various body parts makes the heart of Beauty in the Blur and you are sure to get as impressed as us when you get to know about the thought that went into the installation.
Indu shares, “I talked to a lot of trans people in the community when that project was being done. I met trans men and women and what I found common among them was that they were all very uncomfortable in the body in which they were trapped and had this strong urge to change it somehow.”
She adds, “I felt that it was really important to talk about these body issues, not just to the hetero community but also within the trans community. So I went around handing them cameras and asked them to click pictures of their body parts that they liked the most. They started taking pictures of their new silicon breasts, their fingers, their nails, their lips etc. and then we pasted all of them on this mannequin to kind of talk about the queer body. ”
“At one time, I was in conflict in my own body which also contributed to the project. The community was invited to the show and they were trying to recognize their body parts but at the same time they all came together as one body and that was the main objective.”
Indu’s project Bitch Please! features drag queens showing off their flamboyant avatars. Talking about the project, Indu says, “It was very interesting to see each of them trying to be feminine. However, the idea was to not just highlight their femininity but also to portray the character that each of the gay boys decided to take on. The idea was to use this popular media to propagate an agenda which is awareness about queer people.”
Manifest, Indu’s another project in the gender series, features women posing as superheros and popular male characters. The project dwells on the artist’s confusion with the entire idea of gender roles, how they are imposed upon an individual, and why there is a need to subvert this problematic narrative.
Indu shares, “The project features a childhood picture of me dressed up as a pilot. When I shared with my mom that I wanted be a pilot when I grow, she quickly repudiated me, saying that it was not a good career choice for women. I remember feeling very upset on the idea of gender being restricted to particular kind of roles. Thus, the basic idea of the project was to talk about how gender is not restricted to a particular goal or particular style.”
Picture Courtesy: Indu Antony