How does one begin to tell a story? Is it through the narrative of one's own experiences of life or are they traces of memory. Either way the story remains incomplete. If the story is not a plot, then what is the structure on which these stories manifest themselves? In Anupam Sud's world the human beings dominate the universe by their presence. It is not just a singular universe as a stage and protagonists playing out their lives in it rather it is the existence of multiple and parallel universes who briefly in the drama of time cross each path and then continue on their paths a journey that only ends in the inevitability of death

But death is not the end of that universe, rather it continues as myths and stories as they weave into other stories and the mythology of the human being continues. Anupam’s stories are rarely of comfort. Happiness is that of which dreams are made of elusive and transient. Humans trying to make sense in the harsh reality of this world take refuge in the sanctuary of dreams, which line the fringes of this frayed existence.

The real world in Anupam's work is a hard world. Dominated by bodies uncomfortable in themselves dysfunctional relationships playing out power games. No meaning exists without having a subtext to it. Hidden worlds collide in this tumult of signs and significations. The body politics is an important signification in Anupam's works. A site of struggle for power and dominance is happening continuously within this world. The bodies do not exist as mere biological entities but as individuals in conflict. Even if all of them posses an inward gaze reflecting upon itself, the being by their presence and mere action, mark out the constant struggle that they are in When one says that the bodies in Anupam's work not merely biological beings one does not mean that they do not have a physicality, of course they do and that is evident as they are represented more often than not in their raw physical nature. As a collection of limbs, muscles, genitals and hair, moving, crouching, grasping, sleeping trying out physical maneuvers, trying to make meaning of the body parts. Yet the aspirations seem to escape the prison of the body, their inward gaze yearning to transcend the body for a more ethereal presence. Women being the main protagonist in Anupam's world but not in the self-conscious way of saying that I am a woman but rather as a natural inhabitant of this world. What is a woman?

Remarking on this question Simone de Beauvior has said, "...The fact that I would ask it is itself significant. A man would never set out to write a book on the peculiar situation of the human male. But if I wish to define myself, I must fist of all say: 'I am a woman', on this truth must be based all further discussion A man never begins presenting himself as an individual of a certain sex: it goes without saying that he is a man..." [1]

Anupam turns the gaze from being on the woman to that of being of the woman. Her objectification is transformed into a subjectivity that refuses to compromise her identity as being solely that of being a mere biological entity. Even though the woman in her narratives exist and struggle within the limits of the grand narrative of the patriarchal structure there is a refusal to reduce oneself to become the mere other to the Absolute of the male. Thus feminism by Anupam is not deployed as a crude strategy but as an extremely subtle infrastructure to peg all the stories on. This is not to say that there is a denial of the physicality of the woman within her own narrative. The fact that she has breasts ovaries, uterus, and a womb that can bear a child does not imply that she has become imprisoned by her own subjectivity, that the body has become a hindrance. There is a subtle balance between the biological unselfconsciousness and an awareness of the body and its sexuality.

The deployment of sexuality in Anupam's work has a lot to do with power structures that comes to play within the narratives that she employs. It is true that most of the expression of the woman whether social and/or sexual inevitably gets located within the ideology of the patriarchal system. A system where the desires and power balance is definitely tilted towards the values of the patriarch. Anupam's protagonists display, in their deployment, a subtle resistance to the dominant rhetoric of our time. This is achieved by primarily denying a central role to male fantasies to dictate the interpretation of the imagery. This is done in a role reversal where Anupam de-colonises the territory of the body by re-appropriating its description and returning it to the as a woman in the woman's body a woman expressing her own authentic sexuality and experience of the world reclaiming her interpretation from the male fantasy thus subverting it in the process.

One of the main points of interest in Anupam's work is how the bodies in question share their space, what is the power politics in this struggle for the territory of expression. Told in subtle signs personal mythologies and scattered objects assuming new signification in their realigned juxtaposition. Many of the images emerge from personal memories and histories. They are traces left behind in the psyche and in their re-interpretation their, dysfunctionality becomes their signification. The discourse of power within the relationships that exist within her imagery refers not to power of institutions and their realm but rather what Michel Foucault interprets as, "...they are the immediate effects of the divisions, inequalities and disequilibrium’s..." [2]

Everyone in Anupam's universe exists between the immanence of birth and the shadow of life. All struggles, interpretations, grief and joy exist within the parameters of these two events; both of them leaving their mark on any question of existence that may arise.


[1] Simone De Beauvoir, "The second Sex", London, Cape, 1953.

[2] Michel Foucault, History of Sexuality, Penguin, 1990.
Anupam Sud | Feminine Lore | Etching On Paper | 49.5cm X 40cm | 2005 Anupam Sud | Persona | Etching On Paper | 67cm X 49cm | 1988 Anupam Sud | Cosmic Dancer | Etching On Paper | 49.5cm X 40cm | 200
Sign In Close
Only Critical Collective subscribers can access this page.
If you are already a subscriber, then please log in.
 Forgot Password?
Subscribe now

The Photography Timeline is currently under construction.

Our apologies for the inconvenience.