VISIBLE/INVISIBLE: Representation of Women in Art through the MAP Collection

VISIBLE/INVISIBLE, a three-year long exhibition, explores the representation of women through artworks in the collection. It attempts to re-address preconceived notions of femininity and gender as a social construct through art history by providing a more inclusive understanding towards it.

For centuries, while women have been one of the central themes of artistic representation, the image builders have largely been male, allowing women very little control over the nature of their mainstream representation. This exhibition focuses on such central themes but also presents ideas and histories which provide a counter to it. Sacrifice, nourishment, aggression, abandonment, desire, success, struggle and power dynamics form a common thread across the exhibition to highlight selected stories of women.

Approximately 130 artworks ranging from tenth century to contemporary including sculptures, textiles, posters, paintings and photographs by a diverse range of artists and makers are featured. They are interwoven into four key sections based on narratives and counter-narratives: Goddess and Mortal, Sexuality and Desire, Power and Violence, and Struggle and Resistance. Each section presents how women’s lives have been portrayed, the spaces that they occupy and challenges that women have faced in the Indian subcontinent. The themes and ideas explored in Visible/Invisible hopes to encourage audience awareness of the history and role of women and gender in art. It does not attempt and cannot be a holistic representation of the several issues that are necessarily part of any investigation on gender representation and its consequences.

Through a programme of associated talks, commissioned research papers, round table discussions and public discourse, this exhibition aims to engage with multiple viewpoints, to ask questions and to provide the tools and contexts for audiences to form their opinions and challenge existing ones.

The exhibition touches upon topics such as physical, sexual and emotional violence, and displays nudity and graphic imagery. MAP aims to be a safe space for everyone, and we would like to know about your experience while navigating this exhibition. If you would like to share feedback please contact us at visible@map-india.org.

Installation view of VISIBLE/INVISIBLE at MAP, Bengaluru

Buy the VISIBLE/INVISIBLE publication today from the MAP Shop

The exhibition is accompanied by a publication that includes an introductory essay by Kamini Sawhney and commissioned essays by Shukla Sawant, Vijeta Kumar and Arushi Vats.

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