If you missed the Webinar, we invite you to watch the conversation between Suchitra Mattai and Rebecca Hart, (previously Modern and Contemporary Art Curator for the Denver Art Museum).
To mark the opening of Suchitra Mattai’s highly anticipated solo exhibition, Monster, we invite you to watch the conversation between the artist and the exhibition’s curator, Rebecca Hart. Mattai and Hart discuss the ideas behind the vibrantl works that form her exhibition, focusing particularly on the artist’s influences and artistic practice.
In Conversation: Suchitra Mattai and Rebecca Hart
UL: Is using personal found objects in your work a way of documenting your life and that of your family? How important is it that the objects are personal to you?
SM: There isn’t a lot of written history on the kind of people that I am trying to speak on behalf of or empower. So, I can tell my own stories and using these objects really adds an intimacy for me but also for the viewer, I’d hope. I often feel that including those pieces from my past really does help tell the story not just of my family but of the immigrant experience in general.
UL: The materials you work with have so much historical narrative embedded in them, how do you manage to balance this with your personal narrative while creating something new?
SM: I mentioned the word ‘collaboration’ before because I really see myself as collaborating with these materials and these makers of the past. Whether it’s someone who designed the print on the sari or someone who made the needlepoint it’s always important for me to make it obvious that those are found objects. The balancing act is really about using the aura and inspiration found in those objects to tell a story that is more deeply personal. It is something I think about a lot.
RH: As Suchitra researches histories of indentured people in the Americas, there’s not a lot of written history; there’s oral history from the family and photographs and sometimes you can find shipment logs. So in that unknown is a space to invent and I think she finds that space in those found objects. She lets them be both physically present and also kind of mysterious to her, entering into a dialogue with them.
SM: Thank you for this Becky. I didn’t use the term ‘call and response’ before but perhaps it’s an accurate description of how I work with these objects.