In a Broad Daylight
Coming from a lower middle-class Muslim family in Bengal, Ohida Khandakar in her work demonstrates the dichotomy between cultural hegemony and religious practice. Taking inspiration from miniature paintings, Ohida consciously engages with various elements that she encounters in her vicinity such as Islamic architectural patterns, Arabic calligraphy, decorative motifs and many such cultural layers of Bengal.
Her works reflect her sense of identity, not only as a Muslim but also as a woman from rural Bengal who confronts social hierarchies in her everyday life. She explores the subtle layers between cultural and religious identities and investigates the position of the ‘second sex’ in the process. Moreover, the incidents of religious violence ignite her to explore its consequences interwoven with the cultural divergence of her location. For example, the erosion of vegetables metaphorically depicts the reality of day to day violence in her series of drawings of rotten vegetables.
Through this current set of works, Ohida focuses on her cultural identity while showing the amalgamation of cultural diversity with a religious significance in a particular self. She also wishes to explore the context of modernism in South Asian tradition that merges with its medieval content. For example, Ohida critically explores different perspectives regarding the veil or ‘burqa’ where she employs the motifs from Persian Miniature to signify the origin of ‘burqa’ and tradition of Islamic cloth with an intention to relate it to the submissive position of women in a patriarchal society. Addressing the idea of homogeneity and wiping out the subjective identity through religious practices, these submissive but fanciful bodies are covered in layers of cloth representing the Muslim women in order to pose the question of gender role in Islamic canon.