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Mothertongue: Mithu Sen

April 22-June 18, 2023

Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, 111 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC, Melbourne, Australia

Mithu Sen was born in 1971 in West Bengal, and is one of India’s most renowned contemporary artists, with a prolific body of work recognised through awards, exhibitions, and performances at prestigious forums across the globe.

Mithu Sen explores myths of identity, and their intersection with the structures of our world, whether social, political, economic, or emotional. Sen works fundamentally as a performer, tangling with politics of language, disciplining of bodies, conventions of society, and polite impositions of the art world. Known for her provocative, alluring, and playful examination of these hierarchies, Sen is committed to perpetual unbecoming through performative interventions.

mOTHERTONGUE surveys the past fifteen years of Mithu Sen’s compelling art practice, alongside a series of major new commissions. Curated by ACCA Artistic Director/CEO Max Delany, the exhibition is presented as a mind-map, moving between interior states and visible surfaces, charting Sen’s language-based articulations and interventions. mOTHERTONGUE will explore the ways in which language is channelled into forms as diverse as drawing, media and performance to create complex artworks which resist definitional categories and elude institutional power structures related to race, gender, ethnicity, caste, and location.

Returning time and again to the idea of myth and initiating its unmaking, Mithu Sen’s work explores personal and public dependencies through radical hospitality by generating concurrent dialogues, gatherings, and contracts that test relationships between guests and hosts, participants and performers, and ultimately, an artist and her audiences—thereby complicating the notions of identity circulating around her as a woman artist located in the global south, navigating feminist and post-colonial discourses, framed within the art market.