IN STUDIO PORTRAIT with Flag, Trishul and Om Flag (2009), Pushpamala N stands in a simple tableau. Dressed as the goddess Bharat Mata, she holds her implements in front of a small-scale, brightly painted, sharped-tooth lion, which is placed in front of the Indian flag, which in turn is pinned open on the floral textiles hung on lines as a backdrop. Layered and repetitious, every prop and costume falls approximately into the basic patriotic colour scheme of saffron and green, with liberal amounts of gold added in. Though immediately recognizable as a Bharat Mata image, there is no particular visual reference point, as there is for many of Pushpamala’s photo-performances. We should assume that this is deliberate, because the artist’s images include many more precise simulacra. This image, by contrast, imitates studio photographs in which ordinary people use sets and props to take on new personas. In many cases, the illusion is far from perfect; that does not seem to have affected the popularity of the practice.
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Get our latest book recommendations, author news right to your inbox