Edition of 4
12 × 9
Mousseline cloth, pigmenting on mailing cloth + light box
About the artwork
Agatha had always loved to sit in the balcony and watch the world go by. She had been sitting there for a long time now.. she lost track of how long. She came to this place to take refuge from the world around her, but she now began to feel like this was perhaps just an illusion..
The sun was setting and the sky was red. As she stared at the sky and the scenes around her, she became conscious of being looked at and often looked around to see if anyone was watching. The gaze of strangers made her feel like she was being watched, but also like she was seen - as a piece of artwork, perhaps? A thought she couldn't ignore..
She suddenly caught sight of a figure approaching from afar, and looked down from the balcony - only to realise it was the collector for menstrual tax. The collector carried a bell that rang to remind Agatha she had taxes to pay. This person had visited her every month since her first experience to collect taxes for her right to bleed. It made no sense.
She started to ruminate on the emotionally laborious tasks she had had to perform, and how she had been always been treated like an object or a thing in return. She started sulking with the handkerchief in her hand and returned the collector's gaze. It was penetrating.
This story had repeated itself many times now. So many, that Agatha wondered if she could ever be free. At once, she stood up to the collector and said -
"I see you
I see you looking at me.
I am looking at you.
You are the menstrual collector.
You collect from me because I am a woman who menstruates?
I cannot pay you my monthly contribution today.
I refuse to pay you the taxes for my basic right.
I know you are staring back at me.
I refuse to give into your gaze
because I will stand up for my body today.
You may leave now!"
About the artist
Saviya Lopes is a visual artist, based in Vasai (Bassein), India. She graduated from Rachna Sansad AFAC, Mumbai and has participated in various group exhibitions in India and across the globe since 2015. She was a participating artist and later the Director at Clark House Initiative, Mumbai
Coming from the community of East Indian Catholics, she often works with her native history, through family archives and oral narratives; drawing upon activities like quilt making by her grandmother as manifestations of dissent. Her work deftly unpicks; reimagines history and reconsiders it for future generations. It never wavers in choosing a visual language to reinterpret what is lost. Her works really speak on a feminist key, intersectional, where subtlety, transparence, delicacy convey stories of violence, of heritage, colonialism. And so much more that there is to think from them.She is passionate about the role of women in relationship to labour and textile histories. Lopes’s artistic practice draws from experiences in the spaces she inhabits. She looks at the body as an active agent of societal protest and symbolic value. Her work shows interest in the inter- relation between body, language, culture and navigation of spaces.
Solo and group exhibitions include an exhibition at Clark House Initiative, Bombay(2016); Dakar Biennale (2016); Historica – Republican Aesthetics at IMMA, Ireland (2016); Stories My country told me, Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju Biennale (2016); Gondwana Series – An intervention at Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017); Working Practices, The Showroom, London (2018); The Crown Letter Project, Foundation Fiminco, Paris (2021);Bienalsur, Argentina (2021); “No More Ephemeral Bodies | Solo at Kathiwada City House, Mumbai. She has been twice invited to South Korea for Gwangju Biennale as a fellow to participate and has participated as a visiting speaker at the Asia Art Space, Network Asia, South Korea. She is currently on the curatorial team for the Kochi Students Biennale 2022.