Deaf Trauma (2013)
A Doctor Who style box contained the frustrations and difficulties with the hearing test in a box, hearing sounds, noises, not making sense and leaving those sounds continued in to hear in your ears after the test as if this is where my tinnitus has developed from since my childhood!
Unheard Until Marriage (funded by ACE (2004)
Three coffin like containers were made. Filled with canvases to show the painted feel of marriages in the Asian communities. First one only has the wedding silk over - light green you can see threw, she is excited and getting a lot of attention becoming beautiful. The base on the bottom of all the pieces were brown, culturally acceptable colour I would say. The top of all the pieces were red. When a daughter gets married we give them blessing by placing a holy book over our head as we take the last walk when one is no longer a daughter but a wife.
The second coffin piece has painted canvases in red covered over with wedding heavy embroiled silk to show the doors closed behind you, she is meeting her husband for the first time and formally becoming his wife.
The final piece is blue. Her door opens with blue silk. She has met her husband and is being welcome by the new family. Exhibited in Tooting London.
This exhibition was difficult for the viewers to understand. Then the next exhibition of this was in North London where I re-created it according to the environmental space. The room was full of memories and these were joined into one allowing the public to really walk into the space. I painted the inside with further texts to show some parts we hold is pain, fear, shame but the outside was covered in beautiful silk with lights, so pretty. It shows that we don't really see what is happening. Are we afraid to believe? Or see?
This continued to show in:
2010 Redlees Open Studio Gallery, London
2013 Deaf Cultural Centre Birmingham
Further details: http://rubbena.blogspot.com/2011/05/details-from-open-studios-show.html
Allowing me to explore and reshape my cultural identity over the years.
Room Full of Memories (funded by ACE) (2000)
The deep textures of reds with hints of orange pigments and sandpaper continues to show the roughness. The back of the canvases were pasted with posters and painted yellow. I also use graffiti paints also to show further textures. 39 canvases of all sizes were joined together.
I joined them together with a contracted co-artist. We used piano hinges as they were more flexible for moving around. Four sides were made - in the gallery we put the red as an internal and yellow externally. Pieces were taken out, mirrored and hung on to the wall. Taken out where I can hear and be heard.
This involved a workshop allowing deaf people to make their own interpretations and the colour yellow was the most hates colour as it reminded them of sick. I was protecting myself in the room and only showing what is sick and shocking, but many struggled to see how the room of memories can hold onto us for years ahead.
Mute Culture (1995)
This was a maze with cultures we don't really talk about or understand. Outside was made with steel 4 sheets 8 X 4 ft leaving the last piece as an entrance. Steels were welded with fine lines so you could peek if you prefer not to walk in. Inside the maze one section was yellow - with small weaved photos of women Mendi night in a frame. I cut them up because it's so mixed up how it is translated as an event for our culture. Placed where I could hear sounds they were very small framed pieces.
Another section deep and depressing with grey lines of my audiogram showing how deaf I am. Another pink with an Asian veil nailed blocking access to the next section because you cannot look at a women like that. Nails represent the pain contained or forced? There was a line sewn in the middle too. Where was the boundary?
The blue section with my speech o gram and audiogram into frames to show I am calm and accepting of this and this is what I can hear. Frames were placed where I can hear. Leaving a confused interpretation of my speech in the print. Representing the cultures we don't talk about, are we ashamed?
One viewer stated 'it was amazingly deep and had a powerful affect on me'
The Box (1994)
8 X 4 ft X 4 painted with orange pigment, stones, pasted sandpaper. It is as if I had created my audiogram (hearing test chart) I included how it is a burden to have to go to hospital to get repairs, batteries and regular check-ups. I was always tested as a child but you become less important as an adult. Then I got the loft installation, filled the back of the canvas as padding to make these 4 joined up paintings, standing alone like sound proof. I got the muslin socked with wallpaper paste, stones and pigment with 4 sandpaper sheets representing my childhood looking through the window not being allowed to go out much. Was I hidden because of my deafness? Or my culture? I was seeking a way out. The loft installation pieces where also cut into squares and soaked in the same paste pigments and stones. When they dried up they were placed inside on the floor of the installation. Grey silk from my Asian culture size of 8ft X 4ft X 4 were hinged over the outside, hiding the installation making it appear soft and beautiful but inside it was not that pleasant and smelled strange and no one dared to walk inside. These showed fear of not really believing how deafness is perceived by others. I am in this box wanting out.... Can I escape my deafness?
'Aaeena' translates mirror in Hindi inspired from a Bollywood film (1992)
(Degree show first Installation at St Martins London)
Large room with various paintings hinged up to contain the reflective cultural gender emotions that are often flat but bright, exciting fears or sadness.
Canvases 11ft X 15ft X 6, filled with strong colours and texts describing my frustrations with not being heard or my views understood. It was deeply painted and difficult to read some of these as its written with oil pigments and painted over - a lot of deep emotion of how I felt at the time. These are placed where there big tall stronger viewers are over taking my authority to my reflective views.
100cm X 100cm X 6, painted plainly but bright with the sides painted like beats to follow rhythms and movement of the Bollywood energy that is being held back on the side.
1ft X 2ft X 8, painted with marks. You can see and feel my emotions, they are contained in this space, boiling but yet unsure where to put them.
1ft X 1ft X 10 painted blue on the walls as if the painting has become 2D flat as part of the space and its surrounding is too small to be seen or heard.
Then these are placed where I heard the beats from a very deep soul searching space in the Bollywood films. We had no subtitles back then so I watched the visuals and these were translated with my own deaf 'hearing' ability at the time.
Windows were covered with muslin to soften the sounds and the brightness of beats, colours and reflections offers another angle for me to explore my identity further.
Critical reviewers from the papers came in and stated 'something is here that is very feminist and powerful' (I had no interpreter so I could not remember the full conversation but this made me feel I am heard and believed)