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Chemical Reaction

It happened over a dinner conversion in New York. In the 1950s,birth control activist Margaret Sanger entrusted Gregory Pincus.

Written by Vandana Kalra |
February 2, 2011 11:59:38 pm

Fifty years since its inception,the birth control pill goes through different artistic interpretations

It happened over a dinner conversion in New York. In the 1950s,birth control activist Margaret Sanger entrusted Gregory Pincus,a low key scientist in the suburbs of Worcester with the task of inventing a birth-control pill. True to his word,within a decade,on May 9,1960,the scientist got a sanction from the US Food and Drug Administration to use Enovid as an oral contraceptive. It was approved in the UK in 1961 and was in medical stores worldwide. Fifty years later the “magic pill” gets a makeover,on canvas and through installations,at The Pill,an exhibition at Latitude 28 at Lado Sarai.

“The concept is not about female interiority. It is about collisions,where private life,body and health find a volatile and political interface. As an icon for the modern woman,The Pill pre-supposes monogamy by a man and woman,” says curator Avni Doshi. The brief was pondered over by 11 artists from the subcontinent,resulting in various interpretations. If Swati Khurana comments on its consumer packaging and adornment,through the work Family Planning,that suggests how contraception is imported and tested on Third World Women,Jaishri Abhichandani discusses the complexities of female identity. Her No Way Home is a wall-mounted installation where pink whips,covered in jewels merge a bull head with the uterus. Tushar Joag depicts the sperm and the ovum in his mixed media work Collateral Damage. “Whatever is said about The Pill offering women emancipation,it is still an intrusive method of birth control. In the interplay between the sperm and the ovum,the female body becomes a site of collateral damage,” says the Mumbai-based artist.

Suspended close to his work is New York-born and raised Vito Tumbarello’s photograph titled Chloe,which makes an attempt to depict queer. “My parents taught me to never be afraid of anyone,they also encouraged me to be myself. I identify myself as queer. It is the grey between the black and white. Transsexuals are another shade of grey,” observes Tumbarello. Another hue of The Pill? Perhaps.

The exhibition is on till February 20. For details,contact: 4679 1111.

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