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Feminine Fables

Imaging the IndianWoman in Painting, Photography and Cinema
Geeti Sen

A new iconography of the Indian woman seems to be emerging which challenges the traditional “images” and roles of women.

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A new iconography of the Indian woman seems to be emerging which challenges the traditional “images” and roles of women.
Dramatic changes in projecting the woman reflect changes in societal norms and taboos—in a country which has both defiled the woman and idolised her. These roles for the modern woman are subversive, mapping out bold new frontiers for her to explore. The effects are persuasive in being projected through the media, the fourth estate in society and through the popular genre of Hindi cinema.

Set against the feminist discourse, these images raise different questions about “seeing” the Indian woman. Traced over the century, they suggest an extraordinary transformation in imaging the Indian woman, as manifested in painting, photography, popular posters and classical cinema and as examined here in works by both men and women.

In five seminal essays this book examines central issues regarding the woman: whether she is viewed as a woman or a goddess; whether her body is treated as an object or subject of pleasure; if she has the freedom to move from the home to the world outside; if she is expected to play multiple roles or is perceived in her integral self; and if she has learnt now to re-assert her own power.

Geeti Sen has been the Editor of the IIC Quarterly and head of publications at the India International Centre, New Delhi for fifteen years. She trained as an art historian at the Universities of Chicago and Calcutta, and was then the Art Critic for the Times of India, Mumbai and for India Today, Delhi, and Assistant Editor of the art journal Marg, Mumbai. Her awards include a fellowship from the Smithsonian Institute (1967), the Homi Bhabha Fellowship (1978-80), and the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowship (1988-2000). She has taught the History of Indian and European Art at six national institutions in India, and has been invited to lecture in Canada, Egypt, France, Greece, Spain, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, by institutions in these countries.

Among her publications her major books include Paintings from the Akbar Nama (1985), Image and Imagination—Five Contemporary Artists in India (1996), Bindu: Space and Time in Raza’s Vision (1997), and Ganesh Pyne: Revelations (2000). Each of these four books seeks to intrepret art with an interdisciplinary approach. Likewise, this present book integrates the iconography of contemporary art practice into the wider concerns of ethics, nationalism and social values in India.

Photographs by Anupam Sud

• Acknowledgements
• Feminine Fables: introduction
• Bharat Mata: woman or goddess?
• Woman Resting on a Charpoy: the emiotics of desire
• The Home and the World: inner and outer spaces
• The Ceremony of Unmasking: the ambivalence of roles
• Hatyogini Shakti: the goddess within
• Glossary
ISBN 9788185822884
Pages 228
Number of photographs 63 colour and 54 b/w
Size 9.5 x 11" (241 x 280 mm), hc
Date of Publishing 2002
Language(s) English
Rights Available World rights

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