The hybrids

BHARTI KHER

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This series of five works was made between 2003/4.

When I began them I wanted to look at the body; make the urban goddess and talk about a space that was and still is worth unpacking for me. The domestic space: a place of love, desire, a chrysalis for a child, a shelter and a home but also fraught with politics, social manoeuvring, and economic power play. Itís the place where you learn about relationships and develop your social skills.

Here are some excerpts from thoughts over the years.

They are about the women who set up these spaces; they are the protagonists and their desires are multifarious. A narrative about life and thinking somehow unfolds as Iíve created a new race of what you may see as monsters. I see them as portents for the future.

Who are the Hybrid women?

What are they doing?

What do they want?

And why?

 

 

Angel, 2004; Digital c-print; 114.4 x 76.2 cm

 

Does it matter to you that you canít place them?

Is it worth pointing out that they donít really care what you think or even bother to resist your imposing and limited classifications of their gender, sexuality, history and body. You are after all stuck in the place of your own making.

You are always looking at the Ďotherí as a way of defining yourself so you feel better about your own skills in cognizance and reading.

You look at them hoping they will reciprocate your gaze with a nod or a winkÖ yes I am that of your understanding. A keen satisfaction overwhelms you and your sense of being right feels warm and evangelic. Even slightly God-given.

Your baby is also blue.

She will be worshipped Ö as the great seductress and lover like Krishna? No, most likely she wonít be worshipped like this Ö

She may turn black as she ages because they fear her sexuality as dangerous (yet irritatingly continue to revere her fertility as something to be shared with all). So she will morph for the sake of her own sanity and peace to become one of many multiples that plays out her life. Today she is with her beautiful mother.

The Ďrightí she feels is intrinsic but also linked to your knowledge of the history of European painting. All Ďmother and childísí are about types of love. Her motherís conception clearly wasnít an immaculate one and their bond will always be stronger for that.

 

 

Feather duster, 2004; Digital c-print; 114.3 x 76.2 cm

 

ĎInfestation, corruption and mockeryí, responds the work. ĎI want you to laugh at me and with me as I laugh at you, fear me and learn to love meÖ. Come and play with me in this cacophony of desire, dissatisfaction and disarray.í

So you approach this onomatopoeic familiar only to be confronted by a skin thatís attached itself to a body not of its own making. Like a subversion that spreads and continues to evolve leaving the host body with no memory of what was original or authentic. That, by carrying the skin of another, she makes herself more entire, more powerful, more herself. She has enhanced her identity like the shaman or the hunter to possess more energy than before; atoms that she can will to change her covering.

This is the hybrid.

Her mouth isnít in sync with the sounds it should make. She tries to sing like the song of spring; like Maria Callas; like the love song you know you heard but canít remember. What comes out instead is a primal call so dark, so loud that only the bottom of the sea can give her place and you find yourself drowning in her call.

ĎCome home,í she says, ĎIíve cleaned the house.í

If you have ever had a near drowning experience you would know that water isnít particular about its chosen one.

First it carries you like an adoring mother or lover enveloping your body with gentle caress but soon it becomes a thicker and heavier nectar, desiring you, seducing you to sink further back into the deep abyss.

Itís beautiful until you panic because your lungs scream for air and you remember the cord was cut when you were born.

Communication within our own bodies is primal and clear. We can travel though time.

 

 

Chocolate muffin, 2004; Digital c-print; 114.3 x 76.2 cm

 

Arione says: ĎCome closer, come near, donít be afraid.

Ha, I didnít say because I was serving cake that you could have cake. First you must be welcomed and I will bring you water whilst you leave your preconceptions about me at my door. My nakedness is seen by you but not by me. Your gaze is still judgmental and somewhat unsure. Your assumptions are still too neat and easy.í

My mother always said: ĎDonít judge a book by its coverí and yet you do precisely that. Mothers always get brought into the picture especially when there is some weakness of your character; like they should somehow have made it and you, better and more formed and then, magically answered all the questions that plague you. ĎWhat kind of woman am I/are you?í

And what is revealed in eyes that look right at you and inside you and then through you?

Penetrating eyes and a shrill call: she bores her way deeper into your stomach.

Her avatar is that of a Ďso many peopleí person: (in alphabetical order precisely for ease) cook / daughter / driver / goddess / hunter / lover / maid / mistress / mother / prostitute / sister / wife. Constructed to fulfil a particular yet vague criterion.

As if all her domestic politics and place could be swept up into a single neat image.

Thatís why she can speak in a still image; on a computer screen and in your mind. If you listen you can hear her inviting you for that tea. A strange and real encounter that could change your life forever.

She observes: ĎAnimals donít wear clothes. Although sometimes people make monkeys wear hats and trousers. They think itís amusing to fashion and mimic the human condition this way, but what is more revealing is the limitations of their own wisdom.í

 

 

The hunter and the prophet, 2004; Digital c-print; 114.3 x 76.2 cm

 

You only hear with your ears but I can hear with my entire being. You only speak with your tongue; I smell you with my tongue and I taste the world with my eyes, whisper and speak through my flesh in a language you cannot begin to hear; man only sees with his eyes open and I see with mine closed: all the deadly calm that precipitates chaos.

You think Iím ugly.

But Iím not.

You think Iím savage.

That, I am ferocious

That I need taming?

Why does that provoke you?

You think Iím a freak of nature.

I am a finely engineered being.

You want to know me, to better understand my strangeness, only to consume me and move on. I donít wish to leave home or walk with you. Claustrophobia in this space with you isnít a problem for me. Are you uneasy?

Iím happy that I havenít been dissected yet; that I havenít been put on Prozac; that I am pestering you with an uncomfortable feeling, akin to being wrong. This sense of error makes you feel like you have somehow failed and the truth is somewhere else.

What are the deeper metaphysical questions of how truth is produced and deconstructed?

Truth is, Iím normal but not like you with your extravagant soul that looks for truth like prophecy; as if it was written somewhere on a wall for you to decipher. You want to be the code breaker; but you canít read. You would give your eyetooth to be like me: Admit to knowing nothing of importance yet be curious and boundless. Imagine, if you can, this hunter who catches prey only to catch it. Playing out the cat and the mouse in an endless cycle like a scene from Danteís Inferno. The quest is only the search.

Is there really no truth beyond manís vain hunt for truth?

 

 

Family portrait, 2004; Digital c-print; 114.3 x 76.2 cm

 

This anxiety I share with you reveals few answers; these questions I pose are just tools for critique and do often confuse me.

Time stands still

This state of static whereby we donít move, however, is unnerving and day-to-day ritual is cold comfort

So I choose to live in the spaces left by you. The ones you donít see.

We are the created and the mongrels, the half-castes, the bastards, the crossbreeds, the half breeds and the half bloods. We are the alchemists who summon the elixirs and the magicians who disappear at will. The tricksters, enchantress and shamans that call out to you.

We are the orphans

Floating in the deep sea like you.

You can join the family. We might even adopt you.

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