Film/Video

Natasha Mendonca

2018

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For her Artist Residency Award project, Land of the Breasted Women, the award-winning, Indian-born multimedia artist and cofounder of the Black Mamba Project makes a visceral connection between acts of citizen rebellion in the past and present.

Through a “live cinema” performance incorporating two-channel projection with a soundtrack performed by Mendonca and collaborator Suman Sridhar, the artist evokes a traditional South India mourning ritual for the historic tale of Nageli, an early 19th-century Indian freedom fighter who sacrificed herself to protest the Breast Tax Law, which required women of lower castes to pay a fee or leave their bodies exposed in public. In a then-shocking switch of gender roles, her grief-stricken husband threw himself into the funeral pyre.

As Nageli’s tragic story unfolds, the work touches on oppression and resistance in more recent times, from the Holocaust to Black Lives Matter, to form a broader examination of violence and resilience.