Purdah, 2007-2018

05_Purdah_Vidha Saumya_2018

Title: Purdah (Veil)
Year: 2007-2018
Details: Series of 25 drawings

The book is folded in an accordion manner and has been finished in two size formats.

Size: 23 x 13 cm (open size: 23 x 377 cm). Edition of 4

Medium: Archival ink on Hahnemühle paper

‘Purdah’ is a series of 25 drawings showing women inside a veil. The veil becomes a fluid, tent-like structure within which the nude women protagonists perform their transgressive acts. They shave their armpits while counting the rosary with their free hands; eat pork and play pin-up girl, punk, belly dancer and devout believer with equal passion.[1]
‘Purdah’ is my most precious book chronicling observations, conversations, melodramatic ‘Muslim Socials’ of Hindi cinema, the subversive literature of Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai as well as quotidian accounts of family and friends making it part autobiographical and sometimes confessional.
After many attempts, I have been able to find a paper and printing technique that re-presents the book whilst maintaining the colours and line quality. The accordion format of the book allows for personal browsing in hand as well as stretching it out to display the book as a series of images.
The drawings were originally made in Bangalore, 2007. In 2008, whilst studying at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, I had proposed to show these drawings at Alliance Française, where the director politely asked me to come with drawings where women had clothes on their bodies. Since then I have sent these drawings for consideration to various exhibitions and possibilities of being shown. They have most often been accepted and then withdrawn by the organizers owing to its content, “nude women in a purdah”. To me, the drawings and the women in them seem to wait patiently for their turn to be shown. Meanwhile, they carry on with all that is possible within the assumed confines of a veil. In 2018, I have printed 7 copies of the book as its first edition. The books are folded in an accordion manner and have been finished in two size formats.


[1] From the essay, ‘Inflation is deflation’ by Nancy Adajania (2011)

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