Inhabiting Erasures

Embodying traces of the feminine

Rakini Devi’s nightwork: the performer as visual artist
Keith Gallasch, Realtime 2 June 2021

“Everything about Inhabiting Erasure evokes night labour, Freud’s dream-work, the shaping and managing of images conjured by desire, anxiety and trauma. Responding specifically to “the erasure of women through acts of misogyny and violence” in India and beyond, Devi has called up from the depths of her consciousness a phantasmagoria of fearsome goddess figures, Kali (the dark side of Durga) above all. Alongside are their cross-cultural correlatives: the Madonna and a Female Pope whom Devi has hauntingly and wittily embodied and hybridised with Kali in performance and installation. These are found in traces, including projections from performances and costumes and props on display, awaiting embodiment.

In the face of ephemerality and its erasures, it is consoling to reflect that the richness and power of Rakini Devi’s Inhabiting Erasures emanates not only from three decades of practice, but sustainingly from a several thousand-year-old cultural heritage which the artist perpetuates and idiosyncratically opens out, defying transience. Her art is born of a culture often beyond my comprehension, but that’s not say it’s beyond meaning as Devi’s imagery incorporates itself indelibly into my own night work, where art is most deeply felt. This is art that is at once modern (full of self-recognition, as Bourgeois would have it), powerfully ancient (felt like a shock of the old) and compelled by compassion that both respects and challenges tradition.”

An artistic feminist protest by Rakini Devi

By Bageshri Savyasachi April 8, 2021.

Rakini Devi’s performance with sound artist Cat Hope on opening night was a sombre yet empowering depiction of femininity. She used chalk and paint to write and draw, materials prone to fading, perhaps depicting how society tends to ignore/normalise violence against women…….

With Hope’s sunken and reflective guitar strums in the background, Devi creates live art dressed in black flowy fabric with white face paint and amplified makeup, literally embodying goddess-like aesthetics. The audience witnessed the emergence and rise of a goddess before their very eyes.

Her profound awareness of global atrocities against women across all classes of society, coupled with a passion for religious female iconography, has transformed her into an art activist well-equipped to comment on the issue through a divine lens.

Opening and closing performance excerpts: Inhabiting Erasures with Cat Hope & Liberty Kerr 6.min.

Create NSW, University of Sydney