Bharti Kher’s cartographic collages with bindis

Think of constructivist lines and meridians marked out and filled in by different coloured dots. These dots are not dots but bindis. In a suite of works up for a sale for artists called Pledge on June 1st 2021 Bharti Kher’s Maps and Bindis in A small world Together, make for a researched rendering of possibilities in the art of an aesthetic collaboration of geophysical mapping and a simple found object called a bindi.

Source: Bharti Kher Studio

Kher has been working on maps since 2010, her most successful world famous exhibition of the ‘Atlas’ series, drew global acclaim – colonial cartographies became sites of global counter-narratives. Kher in interviews referred to them as  marking of ‘human positions’, ‘remnants of memory’, and ‘residues of the soul’— even as she used a disruption of the map’s formal grid and its geodesic abstractions to create her own aesthetic.

Kher’s A Small World Together series collages bindis of different colors, shapes, and sizes onto existing world maps. She breathes new life into cartographical conventions with her juxtaposition of bindis. She suggests certain patterns of migration and movement , and  intrinsic global connectivity of the ongoing crisis and of broader humanity.

Source: Bharti Kher Studio

Amongst Kher’s signature materials, loaded with symbolism is the found feminine object the bindi. It appeared  in her work in 1995 and is now an  inherited  aesthetic that echoes cultural duality. Her use of found objects is informed by her own position as an artist located between geographic and social milieus. Her way of working is exploratory: surveying, looking, collecting, and transforming, as she repositions the viewer’s relationship with the object and initiates a dialogue between metaphysical and material pursuits. using it to mix the everyday with the sublime.

Kher explains: ‘the bindi to me represents the third eye – one that forges a link between the real and the spiritual/conceptual/other worlds.’ Used as a material to articulate and animate her themes, the bindi acts as a material, much like paint or clay, but with an inherent narrative linked to consciousness. They undergo a shift in their initial cultural capital – they are defamiliarized, made to seem both scientific and mystical and coded.

Source: Bharti Kher Studio

Perhaps it is the longer sperm like bindis that make for greatest impact amongst these 5 epic creations. They evoke a sense of playfulness  and a vibrant fluidity that seems to dominate the populated compositions, as they resonate to open up a vision of earth in absolute as well as a sublime flux. In the past she has said: “ My maps are sometimes entries into the spaces of losing yourself as they go nowhere and everywhere. ”

In an India where we are battling the second wave of the pandemic this sale meant as a means of reaching out becomes an impetus for stepping out of one’s oasis.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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