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Pink is the Navy Blue of India

10 September to 15 October 2004
198 Gallery, London SE24
Shelly Bahl

Mixed media installation and other works exploring the exotification of Indian art and culture
Launch Event: Thursday 9 September, 6.30-9.00pm

198 Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of art by Indian-born visual artist Shelly Bahl, who divides her time between Toronto, Canada and New York City.

Her mixed media video installation, Pink is the Navy Blue of India (2003), is set in a boutique environment amongst rails of clothes. The video in this satirical comment on Bollywood chic shows the artist as a woman in a trendy boutique, trying on the Indian-inspired fashions in a mad spree of ‘ethnic consumption’. By placing themselves within the installation, and interacting with the clothing on display, the viewer participates in ‘a narrative of cultural cannibalism’. In her earlier installation work Take-Away I and Take-Away II (2000, 2001), Bahl invited the visitor’s involvement by leaving napkins printed with South Asian motifs to be taken away.

“I have been exploring the history and exotification of Indian art and culture, and much of my work plays with and questions the practices of Orientalism, kitsch appropriation and the mass-production of culturally-specific iconography.” (Shelly Bahl)

By recontextualising recognisable symbols of Asian culture, drawing on both historical and contemporary imagery, she mimics the current appropriation of ‘exotic’ cultures, at the same time questioning the authenticity of the resulting products. Bahl is also interested in the exploration of transcultural experiences that occur where cultures meet and mix.

Shelly Bahl has shown her work extensively in Canada and the United States, as well as in India, Pakistan, Chile and Serbia. She is a founding member of SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Collective) and ZEN-MIX 2000: Pan-Asian Visual Arts Network, both based inToronto, Canada. She is represented by M.Y. Art Prospects Gallery.



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