Princess Pea affirms 'Khud Se Pooche'

The anonymous artist raising awareness about access to dignified healthcare for women in Patna.
Princess Pea affirms 'Khud Se Pooche'
Anonymity allows Princess Pea to reach a wider audience.The Bridge Chronicle

Even as her practice has evolved with its relationship to diverse women through multiple age groups over the past decade -- looking at participants through the lens of gender and urbanisation, she asserts, "Over the years it has moved into thinking about the politics and aesthetics of care, women-led narratives of self, and economies of domestic life amongst women and children."

Gurugram-based 'anonymous' artist Princess Pea, who is part of a women-centred campaign 'Khud Se Pooche', aimed at raising awareness on access to dignified healthcare for women in Patna, says that the project resonates with the many years of her artistic practice.

For someone, who has been working with housewives, small entrepreneurs, differently-abled women along with those who have suffered abuse, suffer from body image-related violence and mental health amongst themes of visibility and systemic erasure, the latest project enables to build empathy and understand the gaps in healthcare.

"At many levels, thinking about 'care' and what it means when it comes to self, family, and society as large, I intend to manufacture a workshop module to build ambassadors in Patna's small clusters, and along with the women, develop a 'Symbol of care with dignity'. The symbol is not just a drawing but an emblem of their collecting voice to claim dignity and build knowledge, about care and self-worth," says the artist who broke into the art scene in the year 2009 with her solo at the India Art Fair.

Through the sessions, women will work with Princess Pea to co-create a visual representation of dignified healthcare that will be backed by personal narratives and creative expression. They will go on to use textiles, embroidery, and patch-work to co-create this symbol which will then form a site-specific art installation to be displayed in the city in October.

Talk to her about how she decided to be 'anonymous', and the artist says it is more than just about privacy as anonymity gives the power to send the message across -- of equality in society.

"With this identity being carefully guarded, I have succeeded in being more relatable to a wider audience. I am no longer limited to what society deems appropriate for us, as her alter-ego, and therefore, I am able to break those barriers and engage more people. Throughout the practice, I have been interested in this reverse process with the idea of 'dis-identification' - I'm Nobody! Who are you?"

Stressing that while the pandemic has been harsh on everybody, especially children and the elderly, Princess Pea asserts that it has strengthened her resolve to carry on.

"It can also be seen as an opportunity to make new starts, it is a pause. It has made us rethink some of our fundamental beliefs and most of all, realise the importance of community. Being an anonymous artist and curious listener has allowed me to open and engage in dialogue with people across all walks of life, both online and offline."

The artist, who has been working with artisans in the small village of Etikoppaka (Andhra Pradesh), for the next series of sculpture toys based on disability in sports, adds, "Now this is a sector that is very traditional but resilient. I have been working with 35 women and developing new sculptures which become a unique edition of labor, love, and care," she concludes.

(The article was written by Sukant Deepak, sukant.d@ians.in)

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