THE ARTIST AND HER STUDIO: SELF EXPLORATION WITH PRINCESS PEA
Contemporary performance artist and friend, Princess Pea broke into the art scene in 2009 with her solo exhibition at the India Art Fair, emerging as a symbol for the ‘everywoman’. We visited her studio in Gurgaon and spent an afternoon inside her ‘head’, chatting about her latest work in collaboration with AD magazine in Mumbai, her upcoming works and her take on contemporary fashion in India.
1. Who is Princess Pea? Can you give us an insight into her evolution?
Princess Pea is a visual artist who performs with people, through photographs, situational and in your mind. Her practice derives from living, negotiating and transacting personal and public spaces as a woman.
2. Where did you grow up and what inspired you to study art?
Freedom was the kingdom I grew up in, a very protected environment where my father was a soldier along with his fellow men, who didn’t just fight for the country but even kept the women safe. He inspired me to be bold and free to pursue my dreams. This freedom inspired me to study art.
3. Can you tell us about your current work ‘Soaked Selves’ which was recently showcased in Mumbai?
The act of bathing, of cleansing, comes as a performance of the personal – where intimacies of the heart and the mind play out with intimacies of the bare self. What do you think when the noise of the self drowns the clamour of the outside, everyday world? One of the few spaces of self-care, of self-loving, of the self. The trading of soaps is a trading of time – one that was spent, one that is running out – like age, aspirations, beauty, health, desire; everything tangible and yet so intangible. These soaps in their many scents are collected as fragments of their owners, embedded with thoughts in the bare sanctum of one’s private space, a space like the heart where no judgment takes over and one is reduced to oneself. With these soaps, came the identity of their owner and a story they identified with, one that they left behind in the closet of their bathing rooms to step out to the brutal, realistic world.
4. How is your new project a continuation of your previously explored narratives of contemporary gender stereotypes, sexual discrimination and gender identity?
The gaze was created for asking questions, about the societal reasons of women being objectified - Growing up in a society where women were eye candy for the male audience, playing primarily aesthetic roles in a predominantly patriarchal society.
5. What are some of the challenges you faced while working on this project?
Starting from the inception, I was aware of the personal issues these women faced and the understated manner in which they shared their feelings and experiences. As I get older and understand cultural expectations more closely, I realize the urgency of this issue.
6. Your work deals with fashion, stereotypes of beauty, femininity. And clothing is a huge part of our identity. What are your thoughts on the current fashion landscape in India?
I am an advocate of slow fashion and respect sustainability.
7. What are the 3 key pieces in your wardrobe?
Muji wide pants, Muji denim jacket, white shirt.
8. How would you define ANOMALY in three words?
Elegant, Functional & Comfortable.
9. An artist you’ve been deeply inspired by?
10. What’s next for Princess Pea? Can you tell us about your upcoming works?
I have been interviewing several women in their houses and at work - in spaces they've made, built and invested themselves. They then made a photograph wearing the head for a day, looking at the other world they've always ignored - the mind that desires, aspires. The project brings together conversations, recollections and ruminations from the relationship of these two worlds as told by the women - as told by the many Princess Peas.