Anita Dube: Retracing our history

Artist and mentor for the month of December, Ms. Anita Dube’s work revolves around personal and social memory, history and mythology and these were the same themes that she explored with the participants of Partner a Master, Delhi. Shambhavi Thakur writes about her experience and what she learned from the esteemed artist.

I had never really thought about the connections between Art and History. I always knew that History played a big role in all of our lives. For example, in the field of science, when we study about earlier scientists and their theories, it helps us understand evolution. In geography, the charting of prior movements of tectonic plates helps us predict new ones for the future. The history of one political party helps us decide whether to vote for them in the next term or not. But I never really knew about how much of a direct connection history has had with art. And this session with Anita Dube has helped me understand that.

When she described her work she explained the link between what we see and absorb and how it influences what we make. The more we read and see the more diverse and different our works will be. The more of our past we are able to know about, the richer our knowledge base will be and the more techniques we will be able to apply in our work.

Anita ma’am continued to make historical references and allusions as she spoke. It was extremely interesting to listen to her talk as she drew analogies between artists of different eras and times. It genuinely made me think about the vast knowledge expanse of a historian.

 

Anita ma’am asked us two questions.

The first was, “What is your idea of beauty?”
 

My idea of beauty was nature.

For converting my idea of beauty; nature into a piece of art, I took inspiration from a work of hers called “Silence Blood Wedding” (where she had zoomed into the human body’s framework and beautified it) and I zoomed into the trunk of a tree. I used clay as my medium and made a rectangular slab. I gave it relief features and made carvings into it so it looked like a real section of the tree’s bark.

The second question she asked us was, “What does past mean to you and what kind of relationship do you have with the past?”

In our family, we have always been big fans of music. My father had an extremely big collection of CDs, cassettes and vinyls which we have always treasured. It mostly consisted of music from the 60s-90s. My brother and I grew up listening to this music, so this is our relationship with the past. I wanted to do something related to music and musicians from these eras and their influence in the music industry today. So I decided to make a collage of all these bands. I also wanted to include bands from the modern industry which have a similar sound to these classic bands and have at some point in their career been influenced by these bands.
In Anita ma’am’s presentation she showed us her works which involved typography and fonts. So in my collage instead of putting pictures I put band logos. I made these logos all with a black sketch pen. The monotonous effect made it bold, but it also made sure the logos didn’t clash.

She had absorbed what she saw and put it across through art, which is what we all aspire to do. I loved how each art work could be identified with its own era and time. The idea of a piece of art making a comment on current affairs or just making a simple statement was something that I walked away with from the session.

(Shambhavi Thakur is a student at The Shri Ram School, New Delhi.)