In Hindi, Paani (water) is regarded as masculine, while Havaa (air) is considered as feminine. From childhood, we are linguistically taught to formulate this gendered role of both animate and inanimate objects that condition the basic imagination of our social structure. Because humans create the concept of gender socially and culturally, gender is referred to as a social construct. This social construction is demonstrated by the fact that individuals, groups and societies ascribe particular traits or values to other individuals purely because of their sex. Yet, these ascriptions differ across societies and cultures, and over time within the same society.
The grammatical gender of an object has significant effects on our cognition, which can spill over into other mental processes, leading us to judge and categorize inanimate and abstract nouns as truly having a gender. How do these cognitions direct one’s personal or interpersonal behavior and impact our social construct of gender? Do the languages we speak shape the way we see the world? Or, the way we think and the way we live our lives? This has been the principal concern of my artistic practice for many years now, as I feel that these questions have important implications in our homes, and for politics, society and life.
Over the years, my practice has evolved from exploring the objective nature of material in the creation of my artworks, to using them as subjective phenomena. Even though my own body has always been the site of my experiences, material has played a critical role in transforming my ideas into a creative work of art. For me, art is a tool for thinking, and I believe in the shared role of material, time, space and audience. My creative processes are mainly auto-ethnographic in nature, which manifests in my own body through performative actions, and extends into interactive interventions with viewers.
My interest in interdisciplinary approaches to artistic production, is embedded in the conceptual layering of a work of art and its processes. For me, this not only extends the scope of my artistic engagement but also opens up new audiences, especially in the time when the line between audience, viewer and the work of art is constantly getting thinner. At times, this melting line becomes my entry point to the viewer’s mind, for them to realize my work through their own lived experience.
Jinal Sangoi (Lives and works in Mumbai)