SAMANTA  BATRA  MEHTA
The sum total of my existence (close up)
2013
Decoupage on vintage wooden objects
Variable, 45 x 55 inches (approx)
My artwork "The sum total of our existence" (2013) deals with the universality and singularity of human experience. How do we traverse the notion of identity based on our body? How is the experience of (owning, being) a body/person so different across cultures, genders, politics? At the very gross level the body is made up of matter, cells, has organs and systems that function on a common basis, yet the body is a vehicle that engenders differing levels of agendas. Why are our bodies that house the very essence of our existence so vulnerable? Going beyond the obvious function that the body performs, I also lead investigation into how the the body is (used as) a territory and a device to articulate, restrict and dogmatize based on politics, gender, religion and society.

My imagery often has elements of the human form intertwined with that of nature. Nature/landscape is seen and a metaphor for the body (and vice-versa) and as a site for germination, nourishment, degradation, trespass, plunder, colonization and transgression. I call into question the issue of ownership- do we own our bodies? Or are they owned by external agencies and machinations? Who has the right to govern our bodies? Why do we have this fascination and abhorrence of the way the body is represented, dressed/undressed? Why is the body a site for provocation?

My interest lies in these debates surrounding the duality and dichotomy of experience, the sum total of our existence.