FOR A FRESH GALLERY SPACE, CONTEMPORARY INDIAN ART
February 20 2009, by Benjamin Genocchio, The New York Times
Jaishri Abichandani is among the lesser-known artists included in the show. But her video â€śHappily Never Afterâ€ť (2005) is one of the more compelling inclusions, presenting documentary-style imagery of an electric, female fortune-telling robot found at street fairs in India intoning women to follow the example of stoic Hindu women saints. It is a commentary on the pervasive influence of religion in Indian society, especially among women and the poor.
EAST WIND A BLOWIN', THE SOUTH ASIAN ARTISTS IN THIS SHOW ARE SO FAR OUT OF THE BOX THEY RATTLE THE PLACE
April 03, 2008, by Michael Mills, Broward Palm Beach
"Exploding the Lotus" made me suspicious when I noticed that the name of co-curator Jaishri Abichandani was attached to three works. There's always the possibility of an overinflated ego. But after a second pass through the galleries, I became convinced that Abichandani's participation is far from arbitrary â€” indeed, hers are among the show's most provocative pieces.
The curator-artist's two-and-a-half-minute video Bijli: Heart of a Drag Queen (2006) is hard not to notice. Its wailing soundtrack hits you as soon as you enter the main gallery, and the simple imagery â€” a fully made-up drag queen performing â€” is projected onto the curving wall at the far end of the gallery. The text describes Bijli's treatment at the hands of a culture not known to be sympathetic to gender bending.
A second Abichandani video, Happily Never After (2005), runs two minutes and 12 seconds and is shown on a tiny DVD player. It's a drily funny little vignette in which a fortune-telling robot delivers seven possible scenarios, none of which is especially appealing.
Abichandani's most satisfying work here is one that deftly conflates the traditional with the modern, the secular with the religious. Untitled Camera Sculptures (2003-06) presents a quartet of mixed-media works, each an ordinary camera rendered extraordinary by the application of dozens and dozens of tiny fake gemstones. Abichandani has also gutted the cameras and replaced their innards with tiny figures â€” including, for instance, a Buddha's head â€” that transform them into something like miniature makeshift altars. Unlike so much of "Exploding the Lotus," these unassuming little sculptures are heady without playing head games.