Born 1958 in Lucknow, India
Lives and works in New Delhi, India
Anita Dube is an art historian and critic turned artist. Her artistic endeavours draw on rich fount of experience and address issues such as mortality, desire, pain, and joy. She is widely represented at exhibitions in India and abroad, and has contributed to workshops and curated numerous exhibitions.
Over the years, Dube has developed an aesthetic idiom that employs sculptural fragments made out of e.g. foam, plastic, pearls, prostheses, and glass eyes used for religious sculpture in Asia. Through this variety of found objects she explores a contradictory range of themes that deal with autobiographical losses as well as with losses affecting society as such.
Dube’s early artistic experiments are the result of her affinity, in the 1980s, with a group of radical painters and sculptors from Baroda. This artists’ association emerged in the wake of anti-Moslem riots, offering an incisive analysis and criticism of the social and political situation in India at the time. At that point, Dube's work was dedicated to investigating the human body, its tactile properties, and its resilience.
In the work Ah (a Sigh) from 2008 Dube shows a blow-up of a black-and-white newspaper photograph featuring protesting Indians of all ages. A row of tree roots covered in velvet is placed on top of the photograph. The roots refer to India’s Hindu roots. The “Tree of Life” is an important symbol in almost all cultures and religions; its branches reaching heaven while its roots are buried deep in the ground. Thus, the tree links the sky, the earth, and the underworld. Within Hinduism, however, the tree is upside-down: The roots are in the sky while the branches are in the ground.
In Dube’s work, the roots emphasise the gestures made by the people in the photograph, reaching out to the spectator. The work visualises the people’s protest against decisions made by powerful political leaders who appear to be ruthlessly pursuing their own interests. The hands extended to the spectator can be viewed as a call urging us to take an active interest, whereas the roots can be regarded as emblems of human loss. Without a dynamic democracy India will wither and die like a tree ripped from the ground by its roots. The work offers insight into the complex socio-political struggles being fought within Indian society and into the gap between these struggles and the global struggle for equality and justice. Thus, Ah (a Sigh) brings into play issues of oppression and reconciliation, both in poetic and metaphorical terms.
Stine Kleis Hansen
Ah (a Sigh), 2008