Continuing the ACCA International series of annual solo exhibitions by significant artists on the international stage, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art is pleased to present a major solo exhibition featuring new and existing work by New Delhi-based artist Mithu Sen (Born in West Bengal, 1971).
Mithu Sen explores myths of identity, and their intersection with the structures of our world, whether social, political, economic, or emotional. Sen works fundamentally as a performer, tangling with the politics of language, disciplining of bodies, conventions of society, and polite impositions of the art world. Known for her provocative, alluring, and playful examination of these hierarchies, Sen is committed to perpetual unbecoming through performative interventions, symbolic and linguistic counter-narratives and intricate territorial tracings.
mOTHERTONGUE surveys the past two decades of Mithu Sen’s compelling art practice, including a series of major new installations. The exhibition is presented as an illuminated mind-map. As a constellation of image and word associations which move between visible surfaces and interior states, mOTHERTONGUE charts the ways in which language is channelled into forms as diverse as drawing, sculpture, media and performance to create complex artworks which elude definitional categories, institutional power structures and imposed identities related to race, gender, ethnicity and location.
Returning time and again to the idea of myth, and revelling in its unmaking, Sen’s work explores personal dependencies and public trust through practices of radical hospitality. Exploring the relations between ‘I and we’, ‘me and you’, ‘us and them’, Sen’s creation of contact zones, dialogues and contractual agreements test relationships between guests and hosts, participants and performers, and ultimately, an artist and her audiences — thereby complicating notions of identity circulating around her as a woman artist located in the global south, navigating feminist and post-colonial discourses, framed within the art market.
Situated around the conceptual categories of ‘lingual anarchy, unmonolith identity, untaboo sexuality, counter-capitalism and radical hospitality’, Mithu Sen’s practice occupies both intellectual and emotional registers – at once sensual, intimate and libidinous, whilst equally conceptual, critical and subversive. In the visual, linguistic and performative multiverse of Mithu Sen’s practice, her artistic gestures are offered with the promise of radical hospitality in ‘an attempt to bring in the complex, the marginalised and the invisible across quantum spaces and multiple realities’.
One of India’s most renowned contemporary artists, Mithu Sen was born in 1971 in West Bengal, and lives and works in New Delhi. Sen has exhibited and performed in major international forums including Sharjah Biennale 15, UAE (2023); sonsbeek 20-24, Arnhem, the Netherlands (2021); APT9-9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2018); Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg (2018); Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai (2018); Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi (2017); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2016); Unlimited: Art Basel (2016); Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan, USA (2014); Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014); Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (2014); Dhaka Art Summit (2014); Tate Modern Project Space, London (2013); Zacheta Museum, Warsaw (2011); and National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2008), among other forums and institutions. She was awarded the Skoda Prize in 2010 and the Prudential Eye Award for Contemporary Asian Art – Drawing in 2015.
This exhibition is presented in partnership with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA).
Curator: Max Delany
Image: Mithu Sen, Museum of unbelongings 2016, various personal (sculpted, morphed, and found) objects (abandoned, impermanent, and unusual belongings), memories, stories, and archives; motor - driven rotating steel table with acrylic vitrine, 166.0x400.0cm (diameter). Courtesy the artist.