|Chila Kumari Burman|
Since the mid-1980s I have been exploring the experiences and aesthetics of Asian femininity in paintings and installations, photography and printmaking, video and film. In my more recent works, this theme has taken on a new power and vibrancy. I am currently making a new body of work to draw all of these together and to develop the ideas and images contained in the new cultural contexts of national and international politics in the twenty-first century.
In recent works such as 'Fortune', 'Perfect Fit', and 'A moment to Herself' (cibachrome and painterly laser prints), I explore issues of gender and race through the aesthetics of collecting. Dress accessories, lingerie, bhindhis, bras, flowers, hair- pieces, jewellery and make up allow me to play with the formal properties of these materials, working with repetition and patterns as well as with their allusions to the hyper-feminine, the sexual and the everyday. In this work I take the idea of arte povera and recycled materials one feminist step further, using as my 'worthless' materials the pretty 'girly' detritus that many consider cheap kitsch and unworthy of serious contemplation.
One of my present projects is a recreation of my dad's ice-cream van - complete with Bengal tiger on the roof - as a vehicle for displaying and touring my own art work. Once inside, the visitor will discover a creative environment of fine art and archived memories juxtaposed with music, video and graphics. The project explores serious and contemporary questions about representation and self-identity in a humorous and approachable way that aims to attract new audiences to the visual arts. The project extends recent work that has used family portraits in order to construct personal and collective histories concerned with South Asian People and women in particular. In these pieces the private and the individual are used in order to confront wider social issues, proposing a dual cultural heritage in relation to historical and political context.
My current art practice is a progressive culmination of over twenty years of experimental work in a wide range of media including photography and photomontage, graphics and plastic arts, video, sound, installation and performance. much of my work emerges from a tradition of graphic political satire, generated from an adversarial position within the gender and identity politics of a post-colonial, class oriented, and visually saturated contemporary Britain. By dwelling on the poetics of visual composition and arrangement - dealing with the complexities of framing, layering and assemblage - an alternative and distinctive formal relationship has emerged in my work. In a maturing of sensibilities shaped through an ongoing engagement with art practice, my current interests invite and engage viewers to experience a new dynamics and intimacy of looking.