India is home to the world’s largest commercial film industry, producing nearly 1,000 movies each year in multiple languages. The name Bollywood was coined because the majority of these films are produced in the city of Bombay. In the series Movie Posters – Bollywood, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew deconstructs many of the prevalent themes found in contemporary Indian films.
Matthew, whose work until now has primarily been an exploration of her Indian identity, uses this new series to comment on practices of gender and racial discrimination, the dowry system, and arranged marriages still common in Indian society and reinforced through mainstream Bollywood cinema. The film poster, which is a well-constructed fiction in itself, relies on seductive imagery and catch phrases to lure the viewer into the theater. Like political posters and propaganda imagery they promise more than they deliver.
In the manipulation of these images Matthew collages additional imagery and alters the text, and then reprints these images as large as the original poster where they can be displayed in a gallery setting, or in a public space where they could potentially subvert the original source material, and bring into question these practices in contemporary Indian society.
This catalogue includes an essay by Gary Hesse.
Annu Palakunnathu Matthew lives in Providence, RI, and participated in Light Work’s Artist-in-Residence program in June 1999.