Considered One Of India’s First Performance Artists, Rummana Hussain’s Art Reflects Questions Of Identity, Activism And Social Welfare

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August 8th, 2019 / 6:15 PM

Rummana Hussain, born in Bangalore in 1952, is considered one of the first performance artists of India. Rummana completed her education at the Ravensbourne College of Art and Design, Kent, United Kingdom (1972-74), Her artistic practice took inclinations towards participatory performances, installations, activism and social welfare. Her first exhibition ‘Fragments Multiples’ in 1994, was held at ‘Gallery Chemould’ and ‘Jehangir Art Gallery’ in Mumbai. ‘Living on the Margins’, performed by Rummana in 1995 at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) is considered among the first contemporary performance works in India.

Her introspections upon gender and community, sprouted from her spontaneous responses to the politics of her time. She was an active artist member of SAHMAT, a platform of intellectuals promoting liberal secular ideas in India through the means of art and activism.


Rummana Hussain was also an artist in residence at ‘Art in General’ in New York in 1998, where her installation focused on intersections within cultures, ruptured memories and contextualizing the present within history. Her last work ‘Space for Healing’, 1999 was exhibited at the third ‘Asia Pacific Triennale of Contemporary Art’, Queensland Art Gallery in Brisbane. Rummana Hussain passed away in 1999. 

Presently, her works are on display at the India Pavilion of the 58th International Art Exhibition, ‘La Biennale di Venezia’ which is on view till November 24, 2019. The exhibition is titled ‘  Our Time for a Future Caring’, and beautifully captures the theme ‘150 years of Gandhi’. Curated by Roobina Karode, the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art is the principle partner and curator for the pavilion.


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