Mangala in Conversation

BETWEEN ARTISTS | An Informal Dialogue with Archana Prasad
7:30-8.30pm | 8th JULY 2009 | SAMUHA

Archana Prasad: What are your concerns when you deal with the works exhibited here?
Mangala A.M.: My work deal with my own experience, feelings – good and bad. When I spoke to women in my friends circle and family, I realized that the women around me, share my experiences in their own way. I relate to them. I have come to think that what I speak of in my work is a universal feminine problem – the thoughts, the feelings that I feel are theirs too.

A: Are your works sensual? Is it a way to disrupt the male gaze?
M: I’m not trying to target the male. I haven’t really showed only males are dominating…there are also women. But, I feel that the majority of males have dominance on women. Sometimes you have even women dominating over women. This is the system that I talk about in my videos. I have started to think that the dominance on women is not just from the male…
I did try to explore sensuality. I wanted to explore it because it is a reality. What I see, what I experience – that is reality, and that is what I depict.

A: Do you feel that your work exaggerate clichés or do they subvert it?
M: I feel that the issues I speak of are not solved, even if these thoughts have become clichés. Its not that my work gives a solution, there are no easy solutions…they are my expressions of these problems to tell the viewer. These thoughts persist and I want to be another voice, to add my voice to expressing the problems that remain unsolved.

A: You seem to hold on to traditional media and new media…what is your take?
M: We can’t look at my work as traditional or new-media. The materials I use in each work have meaning to women. It is what they use in their everyday life. Through-out history she shares her feelings with these materials.
First of all, I don’t believe in selecting the media, I let the work make that choice. It is as the work dictates. For example, the idea for the work that is a projected video – the idea required that particular mode and material. As a performance, it would be a one-time instance. I wanted that to be documented. So the video that you see projected is a documentation of a site-specific performance where materials like charcoal and rice-powder were used to trap me and target me (as an object) by the same people who use sandal-wood and milk to worship the feminine form of Yelamma Devi. Let’s be clear, this piece is not the art-work, it is a documentation of a time-based, site-specific performance.

A: Why don’t you have any titles for your work?
M: I don’t believe in giving titles to each work. You see the art-object from all perspectives, and I don’t like to lock on any one particular point of view. By giving a title I feel that it will force one point of view, and I don’t want to do that. But, I do title my exhibition so that it places the general context for my work.

A: What is the meaning of the title of your exhibition – “X”
M: It means ‘wrong, ‘multiply’, ‘no’ & these are that aspects I look at when I get ‘into’ something or some thought.

A: Why did you join the Samuha project?
M: Because I find it unique. It gives complete freedom to the artist & the atmosphere at the space is interesting to me. It is different from galleries. It brings together the community of young people and senior artists…..but this is something that I realized later. Initially to me it was the idea and breaking away from the gallery system, the comfort zone, that was what convinced me.

A: What challenges do you think you have faced working in this space?
M: I think that it forces me to present my thinking process in the best way to the audience. The audience could be anybody - common people, art people. I believe that there is no differences in spaces and places…I could do my work anywhere. The main thing is how earnestly I work and who and how it reaches people.
I approached and invited the Garment Factory workers across the street…I felt it was very important for my work for them to see it. Even though I didn’t expect them to immediately respond, I think that creating an awareness of my work, my feelings, I think is important.
I feel that art has become restricted and separate from people…I wanted the women that the factory to come and see my work so that they feel comfort in that others share their burdens and joys.
When I put-up my work at Lavanya Bar, it was because when I saw that space, I realized that I am very uncomfortable there. It is a type of space where I have not earlier been into. I wanted to boldly place my work in this place, and let them speak-out my thoughts there.

Background of the artists in conversation:

Mangala A.M. is a recent graduate of painting from University College of Fine Art (UCFA), Davangeri. In her debut show that opened on the 4th of July 2009 at Samuha, Bangalore, she “adds hers voice” to the long-standing discourse on feminist issues through video and installations. She lives and works in Bangalore. Her show continues till the 16th of July 2009. Email: ammangala[at]

Archana Prasad, is a visual artist with a background in Painting and Art History from Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat (CKP), Bangalore. She hold a Diploma in Animation Film Design from the National Institute of Design (NID). She currently explores animation and performance video through her public art projects in Bangalore. Email: archanaprasadart[at]

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