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Chila Kumari Burman

  • CountryUnited Kingdom
  • Born1957


For more than twenty years, visual artist Chila Kumari Burman has worked experimentally across print, collage, mixed media paint, photographic and mixed media with a predominantly autobiographical focus that explores the construction of classed, gendered, sexualised and ‘raced’ subjectivities, personal and family memories, and the physicality and pleasures of visual materials. Chila draws on fine art and popular cultural images and generates powerful pictures of contemporary Asian femininities. A leading figure among UK Black and Asian artists, her work documents her history as well as it processes more particular and personal concerns. Across the media Chila uses, she explores her autobiographical construction within shifting formations of class, gender and ethnicities in the postcolonial context of contemporary Britain. Chila treats cultural selves as unstable sets of identifications rather than identities as Stuart Hall has described them. Her work takes a critical and confrontational stance towards mainstream modes of representation, and through her satirical and excessive juxtapositions of those, she makes use of the undermining possibilities Homi Bhabha has pointed to within ‘hybrid’ representations. Throughout her career, she has been interested in the popular cultural images that represent pleasures and opportunities as well as exert constraints on femininity. Her work thus visually explores some of the dualities discussed theoretically by Angela McRobbie. Chila’s artistic practice draws intimately on family constellations, individual psychic patterns, and their specific histories and memories.

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