Madhu Das is from Mumbai, India, where work practice incorporates project-based multi-disciplinary intersections cultivated by the material, landscape, language, knowledge, and communication defined by time in visual essays. Madhu Das practice is an ongoing excavation and investigation of the ideas around trauma, anxiety, and belief connected to geography, community, or an individual persona intrigued by the way cultural and political factors influence one’s life; in a way that the two are woven together in the space.
Recent exhibitions and residencies include The Art House, Wakefield, UK (2022); “Space-Media-Voice” curated by PAWA & In_process collective, Wellington, NZ (2021); Serendipity Arts Festival, India (2019); Arthur Bunder Press, Chatterjee & Lal, India (2019); Sapporo Tenjinyama Art Studio, Japan (2019); (IN)Sessions, Delfina Foundation, London (2018); Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taiwan (2018); Harvard South Asia Institute, Cambridge, USA (2017); The Conflicted Issue of Change and Urbanism, curated by Gayatri Sinha at Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum, India (2014); Sarai Reader 09, curated by Raqs Media Collective at Devi Art Foundation, India (2013); Post-Oil City: The History of the City’s Future, Curated by Elke Falat, Vishweshwaraya Museum / Goethe-Institut /Max Mueller, India (2013).
Madhu Das was the recipient of the Emerging South Asian Artist by The Art Family, London (2021); Generator Grant, Experimenter Gallery, India (2021); Emerging Artists Award, FICA/ Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation, India (2020); Inlaks Fine Arts Award (2015). Madhu Das also was selected by Harvard South Asia Institute for the Emerging South Asian Visual Artists Program (2016).
On Extended Asia, 2022 – Vol. 3: Discovery, Madhu Das created an A/V work titled Breathing not Performing.
Breathing not Performing is a two-channel video produced during the artist’s residency in Sapporo, Japan. The research is based on the indigenous Subarctic culture—the centric subject of the work. It examines indigenous Subarctic culture—how they are transferred from one generation to another- evolving cultural practice, the aftermath of the Urbanization driven by the Sapporo Winter Olympics in 1972, and how they are co-evolving and function within the region.
The Ainu basic form of the practice is animism. The bear, for instance, is a supreme Ainu deity, and the spirit of a sacrificed bear is believed to carry messages to the ancestral spirits.
In the video, the woman performer from the Ainu community wearing a bear mask wanders around the elementary school performing folk dances and Folk tales in space, revisiting the invisible landscape through her childhood memory of engaging in learning. The sound in a continuous flex between the school atmosphere and folk tales into the different timelines about the physically present and mentally absent in the world of storytelling in the form of acts, a gesture which gives us multiple readings in the silence.
Image by Madhu Das
This work is part of “Islandwide Coverage,” a multi-site, multi-author project by AWKNDAFFR is an artistic operation situated at the intersection of art, theory, and praxis by Wayne Lim and Soh Kay Min.
Part of “Natasha,” Singapore Biennale [SB2022]—across a network of sites, including the Singapore Art Museum [SAM] at Tanjong Pagar Distripark. It will take place from 16 October 2022 to 19 March 2023.