Contemporary Durga – gouache and graphite on paper; 9 x 9 in.
The symbolism attached to iconic figures like Durga, Sita, Shiva, and even Mahatma Gandhi in contemporary Indian society conjure up associations with certain ideas and belief systems. Under the iniquitous structure of globalization today, the India I grew up in is slowly vanishing. Focusing on socio-political issues and incorporating strong cultural symbols in the contemporary context, I am trying to bring to the audience societies half a world away to which we are now so tightly connected.
In “Contemporary Durga” I have replaced the goddess Durga with an ordinary peasant woman holding in her hands symbols of women’s power and village life. Traditionally, she is seen as a fierce demon-fighting form of Goddess Devi. But in patriarchal Indian society, now exacerbated by trade liberalization policies, a woman’s role has always been a subordinate one. With her two free hands Durga is shown saving the DNA from manipulation. This is a non-violent statement against genetic engineering and the destruction of biodiversity that sustains rural economies.
© Priti Cox