hand bent steel round bars,HD-video 20 second loop
(details) kumkum and watercolor on paper, 18 inches x 24 inches
words of a poet
2018, ongoing
This work is inspired by a poem written in 1942 by a Telugu poet named Jashuva describing my great grandmother (జేజమ్మ). The poem was published in her obituary. Jashuva pictures జేజమ్మ applying kumkum, a red pigment made out of turmeric, on her forehead. Kumkum applied as thilakam (తిలకం) or sindoor is a sign of marriage used by Hindu women.

The poet visualizes జేజమ్మ looking into a mirror as she applies her తిలకం/she sees a reflection of her husband instead / she was faithful to her husband’s words, he says/ she was a woman who authored a divine history of her own/ she wore his words as flowers on a garland/ she fulfilled them as a ritual/ she performed, he says, as a dutiful wife

In this work, performance of a spoken word or the reading of the poem by my family is overlayed by an animation of hand bent steel rods. The visual forms used in this work are composed by deconstructing the Telugu word ధర్మశీల (dharmaseela). Failure to enunciate and repetition of the poem refer to modes of learning. This work engages with the complex systems rendered by language--through both its spoken and written performances. If performance of femininity as described by the poet is a concrete memory documented in a written language, what shape or form do the poet's memories take today? How does language transmit this specific knowledge? Does it fade with time or does it persist as new forms, performances and language?