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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Tiger by the Tail! opens

Published: October 1, 2007
Section: Arts, Etc.

Opening at the Womens Studies Research Center (WSRC) tomorrow, Tiger by the Tail! Women Artists of India Transforming Culture, features the work of 17 Indian female artists, who seek to break down the traditional representation of the female in India.

The namesake piece of the exhibition, Hatyogini, Shakti (1999), is a self-portrait of Gogi Saroj Pal calmly sitting atop a tiger, having tamed it into a lying position.

The tiger has long been a symbol of primal ferocity in India, said exhibit co-curator and WSRC resident scholar Elinor Gadon, in a reading Tuesday of her essay written on the exhibit.

In taming the primal power of the tiger, making it their own, Indian women are reclaiming their own unmanifested shakti [female cosmic energy], Gadon added.

Even the title of this piece reflects Pals desire to motivate women to break their desires and speak up in their own interests.

Yogini [means] divine or human, an independent female on a spiritual quest and/or practitioner of magic. Hat means difficult, Gadon explained. Pal coined the hybrid term to describe the new self-determined, self-indulgent woman who lives life on her own terms, just like the artist.

The message of Hatyogini Shakti correlates to subverting the icon, one of the exhibits five themes. The others are Transforming the Myth;

Performing the Body;

Issues of Identity;

Memory, Loss, Trauma and the Location of Violence;

and Healing and Empowerment.

The exhibit is not limited to canvas painting, but includes media installations, which opened last Tuesday at the Rose Art Museum, as well.

Both of Sonia Kuranas video installations, Bird (1999-2000) and Closet (2003) questions the importance placed on appearance by society and ourselves. The first video features the naked overweight artist attempting to mimic the movements of a bird, while the latter shows the artist neurotically struggling to decide what to wear.

She uses unbeauty as a function of the feminine to transcend gender stereotypes, Gadon said of Kurana.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held at the WSRC at 5:30 pm tomorrow.