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Artist - Profiles

- S.G. Vasudev
- Yusuf Arakkal
- Sheela Gowda
- Ayisha Abraham
- Amarnath
- Archana Hande
- Surekha
- Shanthamani
- Srinivas Prasad
- Krishna Raj Chonat
- Ravikumar Kashi

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Ayisha Abraham

Traveling between cultures, traversing boundaries and refusing the comfortable unities offered by the idea of national "roots' can serve as a powerful visual impetus. The rootlessness of movement, and not always movements of choice, is taken up as a challenge by Ayisha Abraham, and has been made to yield an artistic practice that unsettles the certainties of everyday objects: of "looking" at family photographs, of "hearing' the taped telephone message or of using" those tactile, artifacts of Indian modernity such as the railway bridge India has been the location to which Ayisha has frequently journeyed from England. where she was born in 1963 and from the U.S.A in 1995, more specifically New York where her artistic sensibilities were recast. Her journeys between such disparate spaces as Delhi, Vadodara (Baroda), Harlem, and Bangalore have produced an unembarassed embrace of the fragment, the discontinuous, the

Ayisha Abraham

decentered, that in turn produces altogether new unities. But there have equally been journeys into the past, though they are unmarked by any nostalgia or yearning for some continuous, unbroken history, as in her correspondence with the family past in 'The Doll'.

A course in Studio Art at the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York in 1991-92 formalized a break with Ayisha's previous training in painting received while an undergraduate at the acclaimed Faculty of Fine Arts M.S. University (Maharaja Sayaji rao University) at Vadodara, India The paralyzing effects of the blank white ("heroic") canvas have since been replaced by an exhilarating multiplicity of mediums that are taken from the everyday more important, Ayisha has evolved a mode of conceptualizing and executing work that relates theoretical insights with visual practices, her effort at re- reading the family album, and indeed the colonial-missionary endeavour in 'Looks the Other Way'- (1993-94) was founded on theoretical critiques of the anthropological project, In the fragment of the computer manipulated photograph that is 'The Doll', we are presented, all at once with the structures of our (Indian) modernity, the elegant but far from timid, patriarchal finger, the poised feminine foot and the soft glow of the commodity (doll).

By the processes of splicing, decentering ,repeating images and sounds and transforming the scale, Ayisha produces only the most tenuous of unities: consider the baffling array of Indian languages that threaten to undo the technological neutrality of the telephone message in her more recent 'Calling the Nation' (cat no 7). The formidable if reassuring bulk of the steel girder and the railway bridge is undermined by deliberately trite textual interventions and by a shift in scale, namely miniaturization.There is no artless or depoliticized celebration of trivia in Ayisha's work, rather there is the critical engagement with the everyday in at least two ways. First, through the careful translation of the familiar into unfamiliar contexts, jolting the viewer into rethinking the relationships between symbols of power such as the boot/feet in 'Double Helix' (cat. no. 1). This is what, once more, animates the repetitive insistence in the series of photographs that compose 'Thoughts of the Void' (Boots) (cat no.5)where masculinist power is underwritten by race and militarism. Second,through the active use, indeed " manipulation" of the technologies of our time, such as computer generated recreations of photographs a production of doubly mediated representations, as for instance in the deliberately pointed shots of the television image in 'Fugitive Dreams'.

There is a sense in which Ayisha's productions can be seen to bear the marks of global, rather than local, processes the lasting and profound dislocations of colonialism on the one hand and the alienating experience of capitalism on the other. The preferred form of communication is therefore dislocation rather than seamless narrative, although the fractal images and surfaces of daily life are treated as symptoms of more stable structures that govern the contemporary. Yet the narrative mode, and the local focus, has not altogether been forsaken, as in the anguished poem/visual (Dry Run, 1997) that takes the everyday journalistic photograph as a starting point for a reflection on a very specific kind of violence. The lonely heroism of the Sri Lankan suicide bomber in her combination of text and visuals. her commitment to reading theory and re-reading visual practices, Ayisha Abraham represents an emerging though as yet hesitant trend in Indian art that is conceptual and thoroughly urban, while addressed to an international audience.

(Janaki Nair)
(Courtesy- Private Mythology: Contemprary Art from India
The Japan Foundation Asia Center

Bio - data of Ayisha Abraham

- 1963 Born in London, UK.
- 1983-87 B.F.A. (Painting, Pottery, and Graphics), Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University (Maharaja Sayajirao University), Vadodara.
- 1989-90 Arts Students League (under Leo Manso), Manhattan, New York.
- 1991-92 Whitney Independent Study Program, Manhattan, New York
- 1991-95 M.F.A. Program, Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York (transferred) M.F.A. Program, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey Lives in Bangalore, India.
- Solo Exhibitions
- 1993 "The Migration of Memory," Brecht Forum, New York.
- 1995 ".Looks the Other Way," Franklin Furnace, New York
- 1998 "...Looks the Other Way," Eicher Gallery, New Delhi
- Selected Group Exhibitions
- 1987 Faculty of Fine Arts, MS. University, Vadodara, Ur Art Gallery, Ankara.
- 1990 Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration, Brooklyn, New York.
- Harlem School of the Arts, New York.
- Kent State University, Ohio.
- Fulton Art Fair, Brooklyn, New York.
- Skylight Gallery, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration, Brooklyn, New York.
- 1991 "War Alternatives," Borough of Manhattan Community College,
New York.
- "Know Peace, No Peace," Borough of Manhattan Community
College, New York.
- "Artists Out Loud," Art in General, Tribeca, New York.
- "Marginal Majority," Aaron Davis Hall, City College, CUNY, New York.
- "Dismantling Invisibility," Art in General, Tribeca, New York.
- 1992 "Choice Histories," Artists Space, Tribeca, New York.
- "Migrating Selves-Race-ing Histories," Art in General, Tribeca,
New York.

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