Artwork by Alka Dass

Empowering women of colour with Hindu Mythology

Alka Dass is a multidisciplinary artist from Durban working with sculpture and painting. Her work acts as a reflection on personal histories as she sets out to communicate her anxiety as well as desire as a South African Indian woman and the cultural understandings and aspects attached to this identity. Her work can be understood as a visual psychological reading of women of colour. This visual investigation takes the mode of reimaginings of the psychological and cultural spaces that women of colour traditionally occupy. Alka is aware of how her personal experience as well as understandings of race and gender affect her artistic expression. Inspired by Hindu mythology and ritual, experiences are rearranged from childhood creating an imaginative world.

Looking into Indian homes, Alka makes use of found objects from these spaces that are connected to the female identity. Such objects are moulded to suit her visual expression. Ideas that she is interested in unpacking in her work revolve around female identity, gender equality and the relationships women have with their bodies. In her practice, she is critical of societal objectification of the female body and how women are made to feel that their natural forms are unattractive. Her work acts as a mouthpiece for women for various walks of life. Interacting and portraying the stories of a multitude of women breathes reality into the work and a social consciousness that is tangible. Her works are aimed at empowering women. In its visual presentation, the work features paradoxes and a “gross” aesthetic which is deliberately implemented by mounting works in an untarnished format.

Repetition and a love of what is anti-aesthetic comes to the fore in narrative translations. Warm tones are championed.

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