Sharmistha Dutta, better known for her eccentric art and outlook on human life, has very successfully captured the essence of the subjugated woman in Indian society through her latest clicks, by portraying her as the epitome of Durga, the mother goddess. The ubiquitous goddess, who is a symbol of power and strength, will soon be celebrated through a five-day long festival in West Bengal, as well as in many other places in India.
These portrayals ideating Durga make up Sharmistha Dutta’s latest photography exhibition, a solo project called ‘Durga – Dynamics of power, gender bias and a story of widows in India,’ which has made the rounds of several cities. This exhibition by the experienced photographer, who is also a gifted painter, an able designer and an art director, has been supported by Sulabh International, a prominent social service organisation that fights social injustices and gender biases against women in India, among other things.
Euphoria by Sharmistha Dutta - from her
The show focuses on one of the biggest social issues facing India, the so-called curse of being a widow. As much as the country has progressed, there are some age-old myths that still haunt not only the rural parts but even big cities. As the ace photographer says, “I believe it’s not just the people living in rural India who treat their widows and women badly, but it’s a practice that is also shockingly prevalent amongst the educated people living in the big cities. It’s a mindset that we need to fight and change.” The photograph in this self-funded project mainly speaks of the widows living in Vrindavan in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. Through the images, Sharmistha has been very vocal about the state of widows in India.
Images from ‘Durga’
The project has two distinct parts: the one which portrays Maa Durga as a common woman, shot mostly in Kolkata, Delhi and Varanasi, and the other, which focuses on relicts in India, captured mainly in Vrindavan.
Images from ‘Durga’
Sharmistha Dutta has been part of several art exhibitions and festivals and her talent has been showcased at, among other places, the esteemed India Art Fair in Delhi in August 2008, at the solo show, 'Euphoria' at Mocha Arthouse, DLF Promenade, Delhi in March 2012 (her collection of acrylic paintings and sculptural works on canvas and wood), at the group show, ‘Esoteric Strokes,' an exhibition of digital art, at India Habitat Centre, Delhi in January 2011, and at ‘Filmi Jagat,' another digital art exhibition, celebrating 100 years of Hindi Cinema, at Art Heritage Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangam, Delhi in 2013, with the latest being her International Women’s Day-centric multi-city solo photography exhibition, ‘Durga’, starting from Delhi in March 2014.
‘Durga’ the Goddess
What is strange is that a country that considers Durga as an epitome of the female form and puts her up on a pedestal has brought shame and hostility on the same woman through the abhorrent treatment meted out to widows. This antagonistic dichotomy is not restricted to the lower or helpless section of the society but is also prevalent in the upper echelons of society as well. Mothers and sisters who at one time were were once places placed on a plinth after losing their companions are forbidden from society. Thus culture not only fails to acknowledge their greatest loss but also beats them to this downtrodden state of affairs.
Assembly of widows in India
Published in Art Photo Feature, an Indian digital magazine which recognizes fresh talent, Dutta’s new venture into photography was much appreciated for its insightful take on this major social bane.
Have a look at more images from the album ‘Durga’ here: http://goo.gl/jFGqvK
Written by Ankita Bose for Team M3.tv