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Composing a Life: Biography, State Institutions, and the Personal Iconography of Ganga Devi

By

Mani Shekhar Singh

 
Abstract

This paper looks at distinct moments in the transformative journey of Maithil painting, a pictorial tradition practiced predominantly by women of the Mithila region of Bihar. These moments are decisive in the manner in which they bring out the processes through which the idea of a ‘tradition’ is formulated in the context of the state’s patronage to so-called folk art forms, on the one hand, and the circulation of painting as commodity in the global art market, on the other. In particular, through a close reading of Ganga Devi’s paintings, which are depictions of journeys that she undertook at different junctures in her life, the paper explores how the Indian State-through its policies and institutions-helps to carve out new spaces in which individual expression and the personal iconography of the folk artist can emerge.

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Telephone: 91(0)11 27667858
Address: Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, 
University of Delhi (North Campus)
Delhi - 110007
India

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