The Goddess Exhibition

Friday, 9 February 2007

The Art Gallery of New South Wales held a very successful exhibition called ‘Goddess:Divine Energy’ that ended last month.

The all-powerful Goddess has been a source of inspiration and guidance to followers for centuries. Her many manifestations seek to protect, love, comfort, tantalise, champion, seduce, enlighten, save and, most of all, empower.
Goddess: Divine Energy is the first major exhibition in Australia to explore the many manifestations of the divine female in Hindu and Buddhist art. Created as a focus for veneration and meditation, these beautiful works of art are rich with symbols that convey the many lessons and insights the Goddess provides as she guides towards attainment and ultimate bliss. The power (shakti) and wisdom (prajna) of the Goddess resides within each one of us waiting to be awakened.
Over 150 exquisitely carved sculptures and delicately composed paintings from India, Tibet and Nepal, dating from about 2000 BCE through to the 20th century, have been gathered from collections around the world for display.
Goddess: Divine Energy offers a rare opportunity to delve into the world and wisdom of the Goddess. An extensive events program of film, performance, talks, meditation and music accompanies this exhibition.

The event was very well curated with art collected from several sources including Neplalese and Tibetan depictions of goddesses and represents a new willingness to explore the art of India in a major event. The Gallery also took a lot of steps to include the Indian community and organisations such as the local Hindi School, the Indian Tourism Office, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and the Bengali Association. The latter in fact were instrumental in bringing three craftsmen from Bengal to make an image of Durga over several weeks. This murti was then ceremoniously immersed in the waters of Parramatta River after a procession. The Association also provided volunteers to be present at the exhibition to answer questions from the visiting public.

Female figure India, Madhya Pradesh, Chandella period (c 831–1308), c1000s Bharat Kala Bhavan, Varanasi. Gift of Walter Spink

There were dances, film screenings, talks, teachings, Diwali celebrations, workshops in aromatherapy and painting and celebrity talks (including the author of Holy Cow, Sarah Macdonald). For children they had a school holiday workshop and even a very nicely produced children’s activity guide for little visitors to the exhibition.

The first task of the craftsmen was to make a small murti of Ganesh whose blessings were then invoked at the inauguration of the exhibition.

A great event and lots of credit should go to the curator of this exhibition, Jackie Menzies, Head of Asian Art at the Gallery and its curator for South and Southeast Asian Art, Dr. Chaya Chandrashekar.

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Asha Bhosle comes downunder

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Direct from performances in Mumbai, London & New York. To perform the music of her late husband, R.D. Burman. With Kronos quartet. You heard that right.

It is probably going to feature the music from their album .

You've Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood

You’ve Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood

I love RD’s songs purely for their masala content. They are lively, zany and infectiously catchy. But the westernised versions- some may think of this as fusion but to me it is a khichdi and a mixing of oil and water. RD’s songs are so full of syncopated rhythms, plagiarised western tunes and and suggestive gasps of abandon and lewdness . Then you have the formal, minimalistic approach of the Kronos quartet even though they have performed a really w-i-d-e variety of music.

In an interview with NPR, David Harrington of Kronos compares RD with Stravinksy, Ellington, Gershwin and the Beatles, among others. Also included are live performances of a Bengali song and another called Rishte bante hain and even a very restrained and sedate version of the rollicking Mehbooba Mehboobalisten and judge for yourself. And even Dum maro dum has been castrated and neutered- short sample here.

I had thought I might go for a listen given my eclectic tastes in music. But I’ve decided to give it a miss. Perhaps this fusion messes with music that is so familiar to me that I can’t but see it as being degraded rather than improved.

Update: lyrics for Dum maro dum (‘Take a tote’) have been transcribed and posted by the industrious- and always entertaining- Manish, here. Have a close look at his version of the album cover too.

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That’s what you get when you cross a burqa with a bikini. And Aheda Zanetti has created it here in Australia! She exports around the world and aims to get it to the Olympics. It’s meant for Muslim women who are required to dress modestly but could probably be used by a certain generation of Indian women too.

burqini swimwear

It’s been adopted by Surf Lifesaving Australia and is in use byMecca Laalaa, the first female, muslim surf-lifesaver in Sydney (wow, that that breaks a few stereotypes!).

See a video interview with Zanetti here.


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