Provocation and Insistence: A Conversation with Mithu Sen
by Susan Krane
Mithu Sen is a provocateur, a risk-taker in deceptively gentle guise.
At the heart of her work is a compulsion to peel away received, overt
notions of the self and probe beneath them. She typically turns the tables on viewers. Her early drawings
of the body were mesmerizingly delicate, yet also incisively discomfiting and sexualized. Sen’s sculptures—
whether altered domestic objects or room-size installations—have a similarly sharpened, uncanny physicality.
She gives her array of diverse, suggestive materials (dental polymer, false teeth, human hair, leather, bones,
and chiseled walls) an undercurrent of confrontation. When invited to speak at the Solomon R. Guggenheim
Museum in conjunction with Asia Contemporary Art Week in 2016, Sen did a performance piece that was part
parody of an artist’s talk and part ironic interpretation of the organizer’s technical specifications for presenters–
delivered in adamant but incomprehensible gibberish with accompanying video.
Sen pokes at the hierarchies of social identity—political, sexual, racial, regional, cultural, and linguistic—
looking deeply, and generously, into human nature. In many ways, her work is a form of mediation between
external conditions and our subjective interior lives. She invites us to self-examination through her own willingness
to do the same....see the entire article in the print version of May's Sculpture magazine.