The website for Asia Scholars and Asia Studies in Europe

go to events overview page


Monica Juneja co-curates “Motherland” Exhibition & Symposium



20 May 2022
As part of the sixtieth anniversary celebrations of the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University,
Monica Juneja, Professor of Global Art History at the HCTS, has co-curated an exhibition – “Motherland: Pushpamala N.’s Woman and Nation” – with
Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke) and Robert Bitsch (Völkerkundemuseum Heidelberg). The exhibition and accompanying symposium is centred on the work of the acclaimed performance and photo-artist Pushpamala N.. 
The exhibition will feature an important series of Pushpamala’s photo-performances on the Indian nation personified as woman, mother, and goddess. The works show the artist enacting Mother India’s myriad personifications: nubile beauty and saintly renunciant; militant goddess wearing a garland of sculls or receiving the ultimate sacrifice of a warrior’s head; the mother surgeon activating the birth of model citizens; and destitute widow, bent from years of abject labor. As she does so, she reveals that nations are invented, as are national embodiments. The artist’s burden is to reveal the ingredients of such inventions.
The exhibition will run from May 28th until July 31st, 2022 at the
Völkerkundemuseum (VPST), Heidelberg. The
opening of the exhibition will take place on May 27th, featuring a guided walk through the show with the artist herself, and will be followed by a reception. A
day-long symposium has also been planned for Saturday, May 28th from 9:00 – 18:45 at the VPST, and will see scholars discuss the body of work in the exhibition from different disciplinary perspectives. The programme for the symposium can be found
Motherland is the product of a collaborative project between Monica Juneja and Sumathi Ramaswamy within the framework of the
Anneliese-Meier Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation awarded to Sumathi Ramaswamy.
Copies of the scholarly catalogue, Motherland: Pushpamala N.’s Woman and Nation, eds. Monica Juneja & Sumathi Ramaswamy, New Delhi: Roli Books 2022, will be available at the Museum shop.