Manmeet Devgun /India

Artist Statement                                                                                                                               ver página en español

How does one define oneself? How does a woman define herself? When does she cease to exist as a daughter, mother, sister, wife, ex-wife? When is she a person, an individual, herself? How does society look at her? Is she an object to be looked at or admired? What decisions in life can she take on her own? Whom do these decisions impact? Who bears the consequences of these decisions? Can one live life on one's own terms?

Through my works, I have tried to accommodate these questions. And that has not been an easy task. The accommodation of these queries leads to quite a few discomforts and explorations-some by force and some by choice.

I am a performance artist, art educator, and a single mother living and practicing in New Delhi, India.

Working at the intersectionality of performance art, photography, video, and other material forms (fabric, embroidery, posters, etc) I create artworks on the lines of quotidian experiences(both lived and gathered). Though my work is personal at one level, I feel it connects/relates to/speaks about the position of women in society -women in my life, women I meet, I work with and women who work for me (help at home). Interactions and conversations are a driving force for my creation. It is the idea or a provocative thought that leads to an artwork and the medium follows later. My work also involves the creation of a network of mothers through the means of performative placemaking and collective conversations. I initiate performative gatherings and artmaking strategies for women to come together and share their lives as mothers. The intimate gatherings of mothers often create collectively devised performances and a space for sharing methods of life with children.

Through my performances and performative photography, I try and explore the body and the idea of gender, and also the subject of sexuality. The constancy of the male gaze deforms the bodies of our women from a young age often reflected in the culturally mandated norms of carrying their bodies in Public. I form my responses to such cultural conditionings firstly as a woman and a mother and then as an artist constantly trying to revert structural norms of mediums and material productions. The camera, a material instrument that arrests a moment of gaze into an image becomes a performative tool for me. I find the medium of photography and performance quite interrelated in my practice, as photography leads me towards performances. I explore the intertextuality of these mediums, their limits in seeping into each other, and their loaded historical positioning as methods of representing bodies, in flesh, and as reproducible images. Video as a medium lets me explore the subjects differently, where the singularity of the moment in a photograph makes way for motions, movements, and durations.

My artistic process has often stemmed out of my own responses to personal crises wherein I find means to wade through the turbulences in life putting in place unresolved traumas and at times understanding the internalized chaos.

Manmeet Devgun

Manmeet Devgun 

Born 1974, is a Delhi,India-based performance and lens based artist. She completed her bachelors (BFA Painting-1998 ) from Govt. College of Art ,Chandigarh and masters ( MFA Painting) from Jamia Milia Islamia University,New Delhi in the year 2000.

Her solo tittled 'I don't need your help' was short listed for the Skoda Prize Top twenty 2012

In 2015, she won the Pro Helvetia Research Residency to Switzerland, anArist-in-residence at HH Art Spaces,Goa (2015) and an Arist-in-residence at Klingental Basel (2018)

In 2019,Manmeet was one of the grantees for Five Million Incidents,initiated by the Raqs Media Collective, for her project-The Mother's studio.

She initiated an performance art residency project at HHAS,Morni Hills,2019. Where six artists were hosted for a 10 day residency, has exhibited her work as part of numerous group shows across Delhi, and Vienna, Berlin, and Madrid among other places. Did a solo project, I dont' need your help ,Abadi Art Space( 2011) ,Delhi.

Her work as a performance artist is closely linked to her own life and life-situations, often foregrounding key feminist concerns and has performed as part of Khoj Live 2008; Regional Arts and Performance Events (R.A.P.E.) Guwahati, 2012; KNMA, 2012; School of Art and Aesthetics-JNU, 2013; Live Art Lab, Bangalore, 2014; Illicit Bodies,Bengluru,2014; and Kolkata International Performance Arts Festival,2014 & 15; Der Langest Tag,Zurich 2015.

She was also on the 2012 shortlist for the prestigious Skoda Prize. She is the recipient of Pro Helvetia Research Residency 2015.2016:Dhaka Art Summit, Co-curator KIPAF;2017- Festival of stories,Bengluru; JNU,School of arts & aesthetics;Fooduu Festival,Bangalore ;2018- Srinagar Biennale Basel-Bangalore chapter and Basel chapter;2018- Punjab Panorama; 2019 The mother's studio,as part of Five million incidents; 2019 'Art maharaj in the hills:a project' initiated a short performance art residency at HHAS,Morni Hills ; 2019;Video works at Festival of short videos VIACA,Mumbai ; 2020;Video performance-Room for no thought

2021;Video works at Festival of short videos VIACA ; 2021;Body as psychological house,Noida 2022;Fields of Vision, VIACA

Manmeet is a trial poet,school teacher and a single mother, surviving the everyday war zone. She loves to day dream and dance and lives her life on her own terms.