Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Sutapa Biswas

Under my table

Sutapa Biswas. Under my table, 2003–2005.

As with other works by Biswas, Under my table is a video work in which the concept of time is crucial.

The work was first conceived after the artist’s son, when aged about two, would often ask her to come and bake cakes for the zoo he had constructed 'under the table'. Biswas recalls that her automatic response was to say 'yes', after which she did a double take, thinking about the strangeness of performing such an act. Biswas states, ‘Finding myself under the table, I was quickly transported to the space of a strange world long forgotten but first encountered when I was a child, and subsequently the place under the table began to represent many things both comforting and frightening.’ In many senses, the site of the underneath of a familiar table took on a different set of proportions - a place where we begin to question everything that we assume we understand and know; a place of loss, a place of refuge, a place of momentary madness and a place to cry. It became emblematic, both a strange and familiar architecture. In the video projection, as the damask tablecloth ebbs back and forth, in and out, we are reminded of lungs breathing, or the underside of a woman’s skirt, or of the action of our heart beating as we wait in anticipation of something to come, increasingly anxious in our state of suspension. As the curator and writer Guy Brett suggests, this work "hints at the presence of both child and adult in their absence. It is a shot of both child and adult world dear to the play and imagination of children but never visited by adults."


childhood, domesticity, video

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Magnesium BirdBird SongUnder my table

London, England
United Kingdom

c/o Chelsea College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London, 16 John Islip Street
London, England SW1P
United Kingdom

Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.