put out
the fire?’

Memory of customs and traditions within which gender identities are created, questions the position of women in relation to their kitchens. “Who Put Out the Fire?’” concerns (ephemeral) artworks in house-kitchens in the Mattancherry/Fort Kochi area. In this project, along with the artists, women used their kitchens as expressions of their lived experiences; questioning not only their relationship with them, but also the possibilities of the spaces as symbols of political reasoning and ideologies. It extends the nuances of (generational) memory to aspects concerning deliberate constructs, placing gender-based identity in very specific roles, in society.
From an anthropological need of Kerala’s current socio-cultural scenario, gender roles and positioning are queried and eventually broken and opened up to reveal layers of her identity and existence, where archives of stories for generations of women of a household surface.

The kitchen is viewed as a place of power and freedom, or as a place of bondage and constraint. This multidimensional position that the kitchen possesses becomes the fulcrum upon which negotiations are made, to deconstruct and recreate a new paradigm regarding gender identities and positioning in society.The films made by the participating artists capture the essence of the project’s process and intent through an artistic dialogue, which occurs between the women of the kitchens, the artists, and eventually the audience. The process in the kitchens has been transcribed here as films, each depicting a story, a situation, and a query.

Curated and conceptualised by Tanya Abraham

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Babu Eshwar Prasad

Babu Eshwar Prasad trained as an artist, and completed his graduation and post-graduation in painting and printmaking in the early 1990s. He has held several exhibitions since 1996. The artist's mind creates and modifies visions of nature, transforming them into patterns and harmonious blends that no one else could imagine, let alone see. There is also a certain nostalgic quality to these psychoscapes, as if the artist is trying to recall the stories and fantasies of his youth, which much to his disappointment have lost their magic when viewed through an adult lens. Apart from painting, Prasad has sustained a deep interest in exploring other media like sculpture, sound, photography, and above all video and film.

Justin Ponmany

Justin Ponmany, a transmedia artist, was born in Kerala and raised in Bombay, effusing memories of red soil, black sand of construction, salt and train journeys. In early 2000’s Ponmany, involved the quotidian, security hologram sticker of knowledge goods, ubiquitous as easy markers of authenticity, in a new media critique, relating its materiality and semiotics within painting. An analog interactive emerged sans clicks or sensors that underscores viewer positions vis-a vis counterintuitive material; e.g., material grounded in subaltern disenfranchisement, polarisation, conflation of myth and history by the far right noticably encouraging credulity in place of a dialectical understanding. His photo works evade the monocular, favouring an out-of-body, extra-terrestrial mapping.

Lekha Narayanan

Lekha Narayanan was born in Kochi, Kerala in 1967. She is an independent artist presently based in Kochi. She has been a part of several exhibitions and camps and has also received several accolades in painting. Her focus has mostly been on women and the way in which the Indian patriarchal society defines or constrains the feminine space. In her last series of work, she mainly painted an arrangement of food, vessels and vegetables/fruits, sometimes arranged on kitchen counters. Through these ‘still life’ arrangements, she is trying to look at the experience of cooking and the many things that come with the making of food, within the kitchen and beyond - The odyssey of the kitchen! Somewhere, by painting, she is making sense of this whole kitchen dilemma; the pleasure and the pain of it.

Moutushi Chakraborty

Moutushi Chakraborty is a Kolkata-based artist working in the medium of prints, drawings, paintings, collage, and mixed-media. The artist visualises the feminine body as a discursive entity, through which she enquires into the shaping of Feminine identity from the Colonial to Post-Colonial era. Her works are an intrepid celebration of feminine grit, beauty and sensuality that refutes the prevalent cannons of endorsement, questioning their integrity with the subtlety of dark humour. Her recent body of work questions the context of Homeland as an extension of the physical presence and identity of the Feminine body in a migrant world.

Murali Cheeroth

Murali Cheeroth is a visual artist by profession who has exhibited in over 100 significant shows across the globe in the last two decades. His visual works refer to a wide variety of sources in the cultural sphere and contain within them a deep conversation with the history of representation in visual media, fine art, cinema, music and architecture. Within the context of the history of visual representation, his current explorations include the architecture of the city, urbanization and urban cultures. He looks closely at the ideas of speed and change, intersections of local and the global, multiple layers of urban identities and so on.

Priti Vadakkath

Born on 20 Sep 1971, in Fort Kochi, Kerala, completed her Bachelors in History of Fine Arts from Stella Maris College, Chennai in 1992. Priti Vadakkath's practice is an extension of the person that she is and is informed by her experience as a mother and primary caregiver to a 21-year-old with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as also someone who appreciates the primacy of nature to our existence and the importance of conserving it. The artist lives and works in Kochi and Munnar, Kerala, India.

Sanchayan Ghosh

Sanchayan Ghosh, born in Kolkata, has been practising site-specific art as a workshop-based collective community dialogue leading to numerous forms of public engagements over the last twenty-five years. Inspired by the collective community-based performative activities initiated by Rabindranath Tagore in Santiniketan and the workshop games of Badal Sircar (a third theater activist in Kolkata) and, through his regular engagement in pedagogy he has explored art practice as a critical encounter of individual and collective engagement where he has collaborated and participated in different interdisciplinary encounters exploring institutional space as an interface of the private and the public.