Mithu Sen: Border Unseen is the first solo U.S. museum exhibition featuring the work of Mithu Sen (b. 1971), a New Delhi-based artist who stands as a crucial feminist voice in contemporary Indian art. Sen rose to prominence in the last decade for creating sensual and grotesque representations of the human body, animals, and inanimate objects that seethe with undercurrents of irony and wit. Her drawings, sculptures, and installations push the limits of acceptable artistic language and subject matter, often upending conventional approaches to gender and sexuality by exploring the connotations of bodily materials such as hair, teeth and bones. In 2010 Sen was awarded the Škoda Prize for Contemporary Indian Art for her series of large-scale drawings Black Candy (iforgotmypenisathome), which explore homoerotic narratives of masculinity.
For her installation at the MSU Broad, Sen uses false teeth and dental polymer to create a monumental hanging sculpture that spans eighty feet, extending from the ceiling to the gallery floor. Drawing an organic and irregular line through the complex geometries of the museum’s Zaha Hadid–designed building, the work simultaneously evokes the human spine and an industrial beam. While referencing art historical dialogues surrounding materiality and Minimalism, the sculpture is primed to elicit strong reactions from viewers. With its epic scale and striking fleshy-pink hue, it is—like much of Sen’s work—at once deliberately provocative and disarmingly pretty.
Mithu Sen: Border Unseen is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU and curated by Karin Zitzewitz, MSU assistant professor of art history and visual culture. Support for this exhibition is provided by the Michigan State University India Council; the Dr. Delia Koo Global Faculty Endowment administered by the Asian Studies Center; and the MSU Broad’s general exhibitions fund.