15 December 2013
December 14, 2013–January 18, 2014, New York, Queens Museum
This exhibition’s title dovetails on the Surrealist André Breton’s famous remark upon encountering Frida Kahlo’s art: “a ribbon around a bomb.” His poetic description of Kahlo’s painting was based on its differentiation from her male Mexican artistic contemporaries, for almost half her oeuvre consists of self-portraiture where social and political questions were ciphered through her protean identity and personal history. Kahlo’s sense of self was so complicated and layered that it unquestionably shaped her artistic self-fashioning that included, among other characters, a male deer, a mother, a baby, androgynous woman, Parvati the Hindu Goddess, an indigenous bride, identical twins, and an invalid. Breton’s descriptive will be used as curatorial foil in presenting works by South Asian women that metaphorically depict the self in personal, social or cultural guises that will be as attractive, unassuming, and pristine as a beautiful ribbon. Yet untying that ribbon triggers an explosion of subject matter that addresses contemporary conditions of globalization manifesting in politics, immigration, gender equality, sexuality, religion and so forth.