mOTHERTONGUE surveys the past two decades of Mithu Sen’s compelling art practice, including a series of major new installations. The exhibition is presented as an illuminated mind-map. It is a constellation of image and word associations which move between visible surfaces and interior states, mOTHERTONGUE charts the ways in which language is channelled into forms as diverse as drawing, sculpture, media and performance to create complex artworks which elude definitional categories, institutional power structures and imposed identities related to race, gender, ethnicity and location.
Returning time and again to the idea of myth, and revelling in its unmaking, Sen’s work explores personal dependencies and public trust through practices of radical hospitality. Exploring the relations between ‘I and we’, ‘me and you’, ‘us and them’, Sen’s creation of contact zones, dialogues and contractual agreements test relationships between guests and hosts, participants and performers, and ultimately, an artist and her audiences — thereby complicating notions of identity circulating around her as a woman artist located in the global south, navigating feminist and post-colonial discourses, framed within the art market.
Situated around the conceptual categories of ‘lingual anarchy, unmonolith identity, untaboo sexuality, counter-capitalism and radical hospitality’, Mithu Sen’s practice occupies both intellectual and emotional registers – at once sensual, intimate and libidinous, whilst equally conceptual, critical and subversive. In the visual, linguistic and performative multiverse of Mithu Sen’s practice, her artistic gestures are offered with the promise of radical hospitality in ‘an attempt to bring in the complex, the marginalised and the invisible across quantum spaces and multiple realities’.
About Mithu Sen
Mithu Sen performs conceptual and interactive multi-format byproducts which include drawing, performance, poetry, moving images, sculptures, installations, sound, and others to explore and subvert hierarchical codes and rules, with particular reference to the ‘myths’ of sexuality, language, market, and marginalisation.
To me, this is the crisis of each individual – one is migration, the other is colonisation. We are extremely overpowered by these two factors in life.
She constantly (un)defines concepts and their functioning with regard to acceptable modes of interactions, questioning pre-codified hierarchies that define the social performance of roles, and politics of tabooed identity. Through various devices and interventions, methodologies of play, vulnerability and intuition she challenges the standards of social exchange, undermining the codes we come to rely on.
Her practice produces languages that come under scrutiny as linguistic structures and hegemonies are abstracted as ‘non-language’, what Sen calls ‘lingual anarchy’ – a praxis that employs glitch, noise, and sonic effects in its spontaneous creation that subverts social norms, including those around art production, exhibition, and reception.
Through radical hospitality, lingual anarchy, counter capitalism, untaboo sexuality, and unmonolith identity; the artist persistently explores the void of in betweenness, where (un)constructs dwell, waiting to be (un)realised.