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Virahini nayika and the Great Indian Bustard

Hybrid Being 5

56 x 61 cm

Watercolor and Gouache on Paper


This painting narrates a story about the relationship between Virahini nayika and the Great Indian Bustard

Virahini nayika (heroine) strangles on ground to get a single glimpse of her lover – The Great Indian Bustard. Her face is consciously metamorphosed with The Great Indian Bustard, the now critically endangered bird. She becomes a therianthropic goddess, reflecting on the ideas of totemism, kinship and collaborative living between human and more than human species. Here the bird becomes the nayaka(hero), replacing the male patriarchal figure.



The work brings to centre stage that, how do we mourn for what we have lost? What efforts are required to regain the biodiversity that is currently on the verge of extinction? 

The work is in the collection of Kiran Nader Museum, New Delhi, India.

About: Hybrid Beings

These works aim to decolonize women’s bodies and the sovereignty of nature. To envision new ontological entanglements it intersects boundaries of speculative fiction, archetypal allegories, and precarious ecologies. 

The paintings below propose a number of situations and stories to imagine forms of relationality and mutuality between bird species (both endangered and extinct) and selected heroines who belong to the Ashta-Nayika [Natyashastra, c. 2nd B.C]: a collective term for eight heroines, each of whom represents different states in relationship to her hero resulting in hybrid beings(they/them). These hybrid beings operate on different layers of interpretation. The hybrid beings respond to the ecological grief and loneliness by postulating a queer ecology where the endangered bird becomes the hero, replacing the male patriarchal figure from the context of Ashta-Nayika. 

The Hybrid Beings generate hope and care to cultivate the capacity to reimagine a future for the marginalized and silenced. They speculate on near futures and rethink the notions of identity and interdependency. The hybrid beings become a window to peek into future and past animals (beings)(myths) that have gone extinct with the evolution and those that are yet to evolve either naturally or with bio-geo-hacking of present-day technology. They stitch together improbable collaborations between humans and more-than-humans, making way for kinship. Hybrid Beings push back against the centering of the human and move toward thinking that eradicates the hierarchy of being and challenges the life/non-life binary. They make way for an ontological pursuit of what it means to be human, what it means to be non-human, and where these categories rupture and collide. 


These hybrid beings open up possibilities for a post-queer and post-human world where species move away from questions of identity, recognition, or representation towards an uncanny kind of becoming.

The situations and stories in these works evoke imagination in the viewer’s mind to remember the forgotten notions of care and symbiosis. 

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