World Apéro

“I have only one language; it is not mine»

16. Oktober 2020

Mithu Sen, Konzeptkünstlerin, Neu Delhi

Mithu Sen ist eine aus Neu Delhi stammende Konzeptkünstlerin, die mithilfe unterschiedlicher Medien wie Malerei, Poesie oder Performance hierarchische Strukturen und Codes in Bezug auf Sexualität, Sprache und Ausgrenzungsmechanismen erforscht.

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«I have only one language; it is not mine» (2014, Video performance, Duration: as long as you want to stay)

Mithu Sen in her multi-media installation «I have only one language; it is not mine» (2014) engages with the idea of radical hospitality, exploring in the process the limitations of language and the possibility of dialogue outside it. For the project Sen spent several days at a home for minor female orphans and victims of sexual and emotional abuse and lived their life in Kerala, interacting with children as the alter-identity ‘Mago’- a seemingly homeless person who speaks gibberish does not understand the concept of time and is in a state of transit between two unknown places.

During this unscripted performance, Sen sought to surrender her body to this group of disenfranchised children who became her host in the days the performance unfolded. According to Sen, she placed herself in the situation as if she and the children themselves were all fictional, seeking to make herself the subject as much as the inmates of the home. According to Sen, the interaction was an attempt to understand the complexity of the construction of domesticity, family, and relationships.

The performance was documented on video by the artist herself, a house mother of that home, and the children who intermittently took the camera into their own hands. The amateurish manner of documentation evolved in the course of the project, Sen said. Reflecting on the work, Sen believes «Language imposes a strange and alien logic that tells us not to smell poetry, hear shadows or taste lights. Escaping this rigid framework, this project seeks not only to locate communication outside the narrow alleys of comprehension but also tries to envisage dialogue in a way that cannot be read, heard, or understood.»


Mithu Sen works in a variety of media to explore and subvert hierarchical codes and rules, with particular reference to sexuality, language, the value of art and objects, and experiences of marginalization. Through various devices and interventions, she challenges our standards of social exchange, undermining the codes we come to rely on and recalibrating types of interaction. Her practice incorporates painting, poetry, social media, instructional exchanges and performance to demonstrate how language and social conventions can restrict our capacity of expression. She has exhibited and performed widely at museums, institutions, galleries and biennales. Sen was awarded as Performance Artist of the Year by India Today in 2020, she lives and works in New Delhi, India.

Schlagworte: Malerei, Neu Delhi, Poesie, soziale Medien, sozialen Austauschs

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