Manjot Kaur’s (1989, India) drawings, paintings, and time-based media attempt to decolonize the sovereignty of ecology and women’s bodies. Her practice intersects the boundaries of speculative fiction, archetypal allegories, and precarious ecologies to push back against the centering of human as a protagonist and move toward a thinking that eradicates the hierarchy of being. Hailing from the rich tradition of Indian Miniature, the intimate paintings in gouache and watercolor on paper hybridize old narrations with new identities, conveying questions of relationality, reciprocity, and mutuality within natural, ancestral, and human worlds.
Manjot Kaur graduated from Government College of Art in Chandigarh (IN, 2006). She completed an artist in residence at Jan van Eyck Academie (NL, 2021), and a number of residencies in India, Italy and Switzerland. In 2023 Manjot will be a Visiting Artist Fellow at Harvard University in the USA. In 2022, she received a grant from Experimenter Gallery in India. Past exhibitions of Manjot Kaur include a.o. India Art Fair (IN), Apre Art House, (IN), A Tale of A Tub (NL), AAIE Center for Contemporary Art (IT), Nature Morte (IN), Tensta Konsthall (SE), Surrey Art Gallery (CA), Bikaner House (IN), Garage Rotterdam (NL), Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (IN), Museo Casa Masaccio Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea (IT). Her work is in the collections at a.o. Museo Casa Masaccio Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea (IT), Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh (IT), National Academy of Art in New Delhi (IT), State Academy of Art in Chandigarh (IN), Tellusart (SE) and a growing number of private collection in India, Sweden, Netherlands, USA and Austria.
The series Hybrid Beings aims to decolonize women’s bodies and the sovereignty of nature. To envision new ontological entanglements it intersects boundaries of speculative fiction, archetypal allegories, and precarious ecologies. The paintings of Manjot propose a number of situations and stories to imagine forms of relationality and mutuality between bird species (both endangered and extinct) and selected heroines who belong to the Ashta-Nayika: a collective term for eight heroines, each of whom represents different states in relationship to her hero resulting in hybrid beings(they/them). The hybrid beings respond to the ecological grief and loneliness by postulating a queer ecology where the endangered bird becomes the hero, replacing the male patriarchal figure from the context of Ashta-Nayika.
Hybrid Beings generate hope and care to cultivate the capacity to reimagine a future for the marginalized and the silenced. They speculate on near futures and rethink the notions of identity and interdependency. They stitch together improbable collaborations between humans and more-than-humans, making way for kinship. Hybrid Beings push back against the centering of the human and move toward thinking that eradicates the hierarchy of being and challenges the human / non-human binary. These hybrid beings open up possibilities for a post-queer and post-human world where species move away from questions of identity, recognition, or representation towards an uncanny kind of becoming.
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