Christine Vial Kayser – Abstract

Nalini Malani, a global storyteller

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Nalini Malani is an Indian contemporary artist who lives in Mumbai. Her work is constructed as a narrative that interweaves Eastern and Western mythologies and aesthetics forms to address interreligious violence in India, especially on women. Her emphasis on the feminine figure as a topos of violence, both received and produced, and as an ambivalent figure, both caring and destroying, locates her art within feminist discourses. Yet she claims to be beyond this linkage and to be using mythical images of Medea, Cassandra or Sita as images of conflicts and violence within human psyche, both feminine and masculine. This paper purports to present her work and the mechanisms of its reception in order to evaluate its potential cathartic role on collective consciousness regarding communal violence in India and elsewhere, both for and Indian and international audience, a function which she claims for her art.

Nalini Malani; contemporary Indian art; Partition; mythology and art; feminism and art; Collective Unconscious; catharsis; chora; Julia Kristeva; the abject.