Exploring Paradoxes In Hema Upadhyay's Autobiographical Artwork

The late Hema Upadhyay's famous installation, Where The Bees Suck, There Suck I is "more about destruction" than creation

Published Feb 17, 2020 11:07:44 IST
2020-02-17T11:07:44+05:30
Exploring Paradoxes In Hema Upadhyay's Autobiographical Artwork Where The Bees Suck, There Suck I by Hema Upadhyay Mixed-media installation, dimensions variable, 2008 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Many of the works of the late Hema Upadhyay are autobiographical—deeply personal explorations of gender, migration, socio-economic realities and urban growth, and the underlying chaos beneath them. As she admitted in an interview, “So much chaos in my work actually came from the city. When I work in my studio in Mumbai, there are lots of elements—of decay, of life, of chaos. It’s a double-edged condition … ”

These elements are present in Upadhyay’s famous installation, Where The Bees Suck, There Suck I, which shows a huge excavator hovering threateningly over a pile of multicoloured, unorganized shacks. The work, the artist admits, is “more about destruction” and portrays the paradox of socio-political development—growth and decay, slums and high-rises—all coexisting regardless. The work also painfully evokes a sense of the inevitable loss of identity and the accompanying dislocation and relocation of people due to ‘development’, in a country already beset by overpopulation and vast socio-economic disparity.

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