Critics’ Picks

Anita Dube, _Phantoms of Liberty, 2006–2007, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Anita Dube, _Phantoms of Liberty, 2006–2007, mixed media, dimensions variable.

New Delhi

Anita Dube

NATURE MORTE Dhan Mill
The Dhan Mill, 100 Feet Rd Chhatarpur Hills
November 30, 2014–January 10, 2015

Danger lurks in the unlikeliest of places in Anita Dube’s Phantoms of Liberty, 2006–2007. While a gun pokes nonchalantly out of a refrigerator, a meat cleaver is stuck in an oven, and the box bed opens to reveal the dismembered remains of a woman. Covered in the same greenish-brown camouflage material as the other household objects nearby, these ominous elements are often difficult to discern. A nod to Surrealist artist Luis Buñuel’s similarly titled 1974 film, the installation is an uneasy reminder of the violence that can underscore scenes of apparent domestic harmony.

Aptly titled “Yours Disparately,” the exhibition unites works created by the Delhi-based artist from 1998 to 2014. Creating installations, photographs, and charcoal drawings, she employs materials as varied as wire, velvet, and her trademark enameled eyes, normally affixed to Hindu religious statues. A metonym for human presence, these oculi—manufactured by cottage industries in Rajasthan—are by turns arranged in meandering lines, as in Disputed Territory, 2004, or clustered together, imparting a sense of impatient, seething crowds, as in Justice and Strike, both 2014.

Dube’s increasing preoccupation with words and text is probably a throwback to her training as a historian and art critic. While in the past she has cut out words in chunks of meat, in Erotics/Politics, 2014, she clothes letters of steel wire in sensuous velvet instead. In yet another piece, she renders the words of Franz Kafka’s texts in charcoal on paper, dense and illegible. While the works in the show might indeed be disparate, Dube weaves them into a tapestry representing a practice both complex and varied.