An interview with Sheela Gowda


Sheela Gowda is an artist living and working in Bengalaru (formerly Bangalore), India. The artist moved from painting to three-dimensional work in the 1990s in reaction to India’s political unease. Gowda’s work is rooted in her experience of daily life in Bengalaru, observing the coexistence of ritual and superstition alongside modern urban and economic transformation. Behold (2009) consists of two contrasting materials, steel car bumpers and knotted human hair. Behold was inspired by the humble talismans of human hair that are knotted around car bumpers to ward off bad luck. The hair comes from local temples, where it is cut off as a sacrificial offering when pilgrims fulfil sacred vows. In today’s consumer driven world, the longer lengths are sold to make wigs or supply keratin for beauty products, while the shorter sections are kept to make protective talismans, such as those used by motorists.

Cite this page as: Tate, "An interview with Sheela Gowda," in Smarthistory, December 17, 2020, accessed July 27, 2021, https://smarthistory.org/an-interview-with-sheela-gowda/.