THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Like a lot of discourses on the internet, feminism has been understood by the masses as a western import. Fit only for the urban, upper class. Young artist Aparna T is using Instagram to break down these notions in a series of mixed media works titled They Called Me Devi.
“A lot of people cannot empathise with feminism because it has been misunderstood as a class-specific movement. I feel that a lot of feminist works in Indian digital art scenario needs to be rooted in our cultural context for this reason. My series is an attempt to do this, to reach out to more people,” says Aparna, who uses imagery like Kerala sari and kindi (a pitcher found in Kerala).
Raising a woman
Aparna has always had a leaning towards art as long as she can remember. Her adventures with acrylic and canvas have been exhibited at places like Durbar Hall when she was still in school. “The final years spent in school demotivated the artistic element in me. But, when I started painting again, I realised that there is a recurrent theme of women’s issues in my work,” says the 21-year-old, continuing, “A turning point, for me, was the decision to combine photography with digital art and understanding the potential of Instagram as a medium to carry ideas.”
What started as an academic project for this student of fashion communication at National Institute of Fashion Technology, Kannur, has now become a venture to “create photographs that resonate more growth, strength, individuality and independence,” with models including Uyare fame actor Anarkali Marikar. Her art addresses hot topics ranging from the policing of women’s bodies and sexual abuse to the culture of shaming and LGBTQ issues.
Ask her for a favourite and she points at one titled The Eternal Fire of Feminity which shows a vulva (something the society presents as dirty) represented as the fire on a candle (standing for hope).
Riding on the wave of intersectional feminism, she hopes to expand her output to include more gender issues in this series which she intends to compile into a photo book.
Visit instagram.com/aparnathankaraj for more.