Monica Juneja and Sumathi Ramaswamy's Motherland: Pushpamala N.'s 'Woman and Nation' (Roli Books, 2022) examines Motherland, an important series of photo-performances by the acclaimed artist Pushpamala N. on the Indian nation personified as woman, mother, and goddess. The series shows Pushpamala taking on Mother India's myriad personifications: nubile beauty and saintly renunciant; militant goddess wearing a garland of skulls or receiving the ultimate sacrifice of a warrior's head; the mother-surgeon activating the birth of model citizens; and destitute widow, bent from years of abject labor. As she does so, she reveals that nations are invented, as are national embodiments. The artist's burden is to reveal the ingredients of such inventions.
Ujaan Ghosh is a graduate student at the Department of Art History at University of Wisconsin, Madison
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