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Contemporary Art Exhibition Forestial Flock. Priyanka D'Souza and Shreyasi Pathak for Resting Museum

Priyanka D’ Souza/ Pinka PopsicKle, Disabled Dictionary: South Asia Edition ‘र' (Speech therapist approved), 2022.

Photo credit: Shrine Empire. 

Forestial Flock

Artists: Arshi Irshad Ahmadzai, Amina Ahmed, Baaraan Ijlal, Khairani Barokka, Mithra Kamalam, Omer Wasim, Priyanka D'Souza, Shreyasi Pathak for Resting Museum


Curated by: Adwait Singh

Exhibition dates: 26 August – 1 October 2022
Venue: Shrine Empire (New Delhi).

Forestial Flock exhibition. Baaraan Ijlal, Amina Ahmed. Courtesy of Shrine Empire
Forestial Flock exhibition featuring Omer Wasim, Khairani Barokka, Priyanka D'Souza at Shrine Empire Gallery

Installation views. Photo credit: Shrine Empire

He’s seeded in me & grows bursting boundaries.

                                                                              – Andal



Since times immemorial generations of women have flocked to the forest to gather herbs, hold sacraments, supplement their income, hide, resist, or just gather their thoughts. In her book, Caliban and the Witch (2004), Silvia Federici underlines the special dependency of working-class women on forests and consequently the disproportionate diminution of their autonomy with the enclosure of the said purlieus. Like the retreat of their Andean counterparts to the punas (higher planes) in a bid to resist cultural colonisation, the native women in the Western Ghats sought the dense cover of these tropical forests to hex their colonisers [1]. To the east, the Sundarbans remain similarly haunted by the spirit of Bonbibi. Indeed, the ancient alliance between the feminine and the forestial extends well into the present, judging from the presence of women at the forefront of environmental movements like Women of Nigeria, Gerwani, and Chipko.

Wilderness held a special place in the radical personal politics of female Su and Bhakti mystics too. Not only did it offer them a refuge from domestic strictures and social demands, but it also inspired their anarchist vocabulary subsequently yoked to the enterprise of social critique/reorganisation. Wilderness thus served both as a cover for these bewildered bodies as well as a conduit for their rewilding. Listening to their vaakhs, vachanas, or vatsans one wonders whether it is the woman speaking through wild metaphors or the wilderness conspiring through her. Our provocation is that the (meta)physical romance implied by these verses is in fact, a deep eco-sexual longing personified. Perceived in this light, descriptions of romantic dalliances in the woods would appear to name inexplicable desires for merger with the ecology. 'Forestial Flock' traces this lingering ecopoetics within contemporary queer-feminist worlds, inviting the audience to explore the liaisons between the forest, freedom, and poetry.


[1] Federici, Silvia. Caliban and the Witch. New York: Autonomedia, 2004.

Forestial Flock featuring Mithra Kamalam, Arshi Ahmadzai at Shrine Empire

Installation view. Photo credit: Shrine Empire

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