Saturday, 20 August 2011
This sounds more critical than I intend, because I'm not quite sure exactly what line should have been taken, other than Orlan's, and the show, in one sense, is riddled with doubts about stance and appropriacy. The opening image to this post is of the exhibition's centrepiece, a massive female head by Ravinder Reddy. It's the kind of thing, on a smaller scale, that can be found in Indian villages. This size, it's both Koons-like and not. It's monumental kitsch to us, but that might be because we have no sense of what it might otherwise be if it were small. Kitsch runs through the show in one way or another, with its masters Pierre and Gilles occupying an attractively camp corner with their usual stuff, as though Bollywood were something they'd thought of first (and perhaps it was).
Tejal Shah isn't the only person to worry about sex, and it's interesting to see how Indian artists take advantage of this dialogue with France to talk about who and how we fuck, and what the whole business entails. Like Shah, Kader Attia looks at the fate of transgender people in a bracing and often touching video of three transsexuals, in India, France and Algeria, while Sunil Gupta produces a kind of fotoromanzo, as they say in Italy, of an Indian gay man in Paris, who enjoys the freedom to display his relationship with an older man, while betraying him by night in one of Paris's most popular gay saunas, Sun City, itself a kitsch recreation of India and its iconography. There's a lot going on in this work, but also not very much, as though the freedom of the artist to deal with his issues were as unsatisfactory and superficial as the freedom his protagonist enjoys to both live life openly with an (extremely good-looking) lover and then shag all kinds in an ersatz dark room. But maybe, as we say, I'm projecting here.