Sex in Stone

2024-07-14 03:28:04

Seema Anand, Shivaji Panikkar, Alka Pande, Anirudh Kanisetti

Sex in Stone


July 27, 2022    
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm


Bookings closed

Sculpture traditions in India can be dated as far back as 2500 to 1800 BCE, around the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Centuries later, between 885 AD and 1050 AD, the Chandela dynasty constructed a group of monuments – the Khajuraho temples – which are till date renowned for housing intricately detailed structures.

The sculptures that adorn the walls, pillars, spires, and interiors of the temples span a range of artistic techniques, building materials, and represent more than one religion. The small but significant portion of erotic sculptures at the site also finds prominence in a range of historical and artistic texts. The explicit portrayal of a variety of sexualised moments and narratives raise fascinating questions. Do the sculptures depict progressive practices or was the display of desire merely symbolic? How do the art and architecture of these monuments iterate or subvert the definitions of the sacred and the sensual?

Join Seema Anand, Shivaji Panikkar, and Alka Pande in conversation with Anirudh Kanisetti, as they explore the coming together of spirituality and sexuality at the temples of Khajuraho, a UNESCO world heritage site known globally for its architectural splendour and erotic iconography.

In collaboration with the Centre for Studies in Gender and Sexuality (CSGS), Ashoka University.


Bookings are closed for this event.

Alka Pande

Art historian

Dr Alka Pande is an art historian who taught Indian Arts and Aesthetics at Panjab University for more than 10 years. Her major fields of interest are gender identity and sexuality, and traditional arts. Dr Pande, under the aegis of the Charles Wallace India Trust, conducted postdoctoral research in critical art theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2006, she was awarded the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters an honour bequeathed by the French government to recognise significant contributions in the fields of art and literature. In 2009, she received the Australian-India Council Special Award for her contribution to Indian art. 

Dr. Pande has been passionately involved with the world of art for more than three decades. She has been responsible for curating several significant and perceptive exhibitions in India and abroad. Her curatorial projects include the exhibitions, The Tree from the Seed at the Henie-Onstad Art Centre, Oslo; India Awakens Under the Banyan Tree at the Essl Museum, Vienna; and The Kama Sutra: Spirituality and Eroticism in Indian Art at the Pinacotheque, Paris, to name a few. She has extensively written and edited books on Indian aesthetics, culture and photography Currently, Dr Pande is a consultant art advisor and curator of the Visual Arts Gallery at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.

Anirudh Kanisetti


Anirudh Kanisetti is the author of Lords of the Deccan. Holding a first-class honours degree from BITS Pilani and having previously worked at the Takshashila Institution, he is currently an Editor at MAP Academy, where he focuses on premodern South Indian art. He has received grants from the Princeton Center for Digital Humanities and the India Foundation for the Arts, and his writings and work have been featured in The Hindu, The New Indian Express, LiveMint and ThePrint, among others. He writes the fortnightly Thinking Medieval column for ThePrint and hosts two critically acclaimed podcasts – Echoes of India and Yuddha.

Seema Anand


Seema Anand is a storyteller and mythologist specialising in women’s narratives, an award-winning author and a corporate guru. She uses stories for entertainment, therapy, education and for positive action change.

Her research on ancient Indian folklore is affiliated to the UNESCO initiative for preserving endangered oral traditions as she works to bring ancient Indian texts back into the public space, translated and reworked to reach multicultural audiences.Combining academic expertise with cultural knowledge, she lectures on several ancient Indian texts, including the Mahabharata and the Puranas. She has developed education resources for several organisations including the V&A and the British Museum in London, based on these narratives. In the corporate sector, she teaches storytelling as a strategic leadership skill.

Shivaji K Panikkar

Art Historian

Professor Shivaji K Panikkar is a gay identified art historian specialising in Indian Art. He has recently retired from the School of Culture & Creative Expressions, Ambedkar University, Delhi (AUD), where he was the Dean from 2011 to 2014 and contributed in forming the vision of the school. Having taught for over 35 years, he was the Head, Department of Art History and Aesthetics, M.S. University of Baroda (2000-2007). His recent research and publications had been on queer art. His publications include Saptamatrka Worship and Sculpture: An Iconological Interpretation of Conflicts and Resolution in the ‘Storied’ Brahmanical Icons (1997), Twentieth Century Indian Sculpture: Last Two Decades (2000), Towards A New Art History: Studies in Indian Art (2003), Art of Ancient/Medieval India: Contextualizing Social Relations (2004/2005), and Articulating Resistance: Art and Activism (2012).

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