The sacred and the profane

Nalini MALANI: artist

Not On Display

About the work

Nalini Malani is one of India's most prominent contemporary artists and is recognised internationally for her socially-engaged art. The sacred and the profane is part of a larger body of work by Malani, entitled Stories retold, that uses stories sourced from European and Indian history and culture, particularly richly allegorical traditional Hindu texts, to comment on modern political and social situations.

As the title suggests, The sacred and the profane takes as its starting point the usually separate, and opposed, ideas of divinity and profanity. The 'sacred' images painted on the rotating mylar sheets have been derived from classical Indian sculpture and painting, while the so-called profane, such as the cat with a prawn in its mouth, were taken from Kalighat pictures, a popular painting form that grew out of the folk art traditions of Bengal in the nineteenth century. The shadow play of the projection combines the two, deliberately blurring what had been perceived as set and incontestable boundaries. By incorporating the shadow of the viewer in the projection they become part of this new pluralist world of merge images. The cinematic qualities of this work also reference Malani's home town of Mumbai and its cultural identity as the home of 'Bollywood', the largest cinema production centre in the world.
The sacred and the profane
Artist/Maker and role
Nalini MALANI: artist
synthetic polymer paint on Mylar, steel, nylon cord, electric motors, lights and hardware
300 x 500 x 1100 cm (overall installation)
Credit line
Purchased 2001
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

View all works by Nalini MALANI (Indian, b.1946)

This is one of the installations in our collection.