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Ekta Aggarwal

I want to create a space for a bodily experience through my paintings. I want the viewer to slow down. As an Indian artist, I am interested in working with local small businesses and handmade, natural materials.

I use local handmade pigments made in India instead of acrylic paints. I have replaced the canvas which is the base of my paintings with Khadi, handspun cotton made by women in villages in India. Khadi was an initiative of Gandhi to resist the British who were using India as a market for their goods. Gandhi wove Khadi into a whole ecosystem combining ecology, economics and employment. Sustainability was an integral part of Gandhi’s plan for India’s independence. Gandhi encouraged people to spin one hour a day; spinning also functioned as a form of daily meditation.

The lockdown, imposed by the Indian government to curb the spread of COVID-19, has created a space for me to slow down, introspect and make the work that I have wanted to make for a long time. Over the past few months, I have been making collages with scrap fabric on Khadi Paper and embroidering on Khadi. Handwork like embroidery has been the means of educating women into the feminine ideal but at the same time it also proved a weapon of resistance to the constraints of femininity as it provides women with a set of skills that can be utilized for selfempowerment. My work usually engages with abstraction and patterns but during the lockdown I have also started work on a series where I am embroidering words that have been important to me in my journey as a woman artist. These wors have been coming to surface due to the healing process that has been set in motion by self isolation, a result of social distancing.