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Words by Tina Palaić

The Cursed Land of Lustful Women and the Power of Storytelling

Art historian and artist Kanika Gupta was part of the TAKING CARE Residency at the Slovene Ethnographic Museum in 2021 during which she completed the documentation of the museum's Indian collection. As part of the project, she created a vast public program, including a dance performance that was performed around Slovenia. Four of these performances were hosted by the museum.

In 2023, she published a book on her performance with an artist's note jointly with the Slovene Ethnographic Museum (Ljubljana) and Kaveri Publications (Delhi). The book is titled The Cursed Land of Lustful Women and the Power of Storytelling.

This is a brief introduction to the publication:

The Cursed Land of Lustful Women is a devised performance created as part of an art residency. The stories (in the form of a devised text) told in the performance are being published in this book with an artist's note.

These are tales of trees, forests and their deities from the artist’s point of view. One rarely comes across voices of forest communities and women in ancient literary sources, though enchanting forests and rivers are described in the most enigmatic way. One often comes across the splendour of trees as an overwhelming theme. So much of this beauty we have exchanged today for an artificial idea of luxury. This performance attempts to bring out this forgotten magic.

Drawing on ancient Indian history and mythology, the Cursed Land of Lustful Women is a unique artistic vision that brings to life the timeless link between humanity and nature through performance, poetry, storytelling, and commentary. Using the age-old Indian motif of the female and the tree, scenes from the Jātaka tales, and poems from the ancient book Gāthāsaptasati, Gupta passionately shows how we can confront our environmentally challenged future by reconnecting with the wisdom of the past. 

The performance can be viewed on the YouTube channel of the Slovene Ethnographic Museum here

In her book, Kanika takes us on a journey to ancient India through her stories and the sources she uses to arrive at her devised performance. Join her in her book to discover how vestiges of the past can be deciphered in stories we inherit and how we all leave footprints that will inevitably affect our future. The book can be acquired from here


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