| 1996 - present
Sati is a charged topic. In Sanskrit,
the feminine noun translates as "a good woman, a true wife",
and when applied to a widow, means "a woman who sacrifices
herself on the funeral pyre for the love of her husband."
Forbidden by the British Colonial Government in 1824, sati is,
to many people, emblematic of the oppression of women. Widows
who refuse to "become sati" often were ostracized,
while those who became sati were sanctified. Isolated incidences
of sati persist to the present day, and the issue remains a
hot-button issue for many Indian citizens, whether they support
the practice or not.
A Western perspective may be deemed suspect
when responding to a tradition alien to our contemporary culture.
As a cultural outsider, Hashimoto abstains from facile judgment
or didactic critique. She chooses instead to honor the women
who died, and to reflect on the unusual wall of hand prints
by creating her own manner of tributes. Memory and active remembering
are focus. After researching several Indian woman who became
sati, she fired calendrical pages of dates (see Sati Mark, January
6, for example), and, in the case of a 1986 sati, a photo of
the face of its twenty-year old subject, Roop Kanwar.
Debate continues as to whether Kanwar went
willingly to the pyre or was forced. Not all satis are known or
recorded, and though Hashimoto researched those in this exhibition,
she leaves some ceramic book plates and the hand prints on them
unnamed and unclaimed, treating anonymity with equal reverence.
One template of her hand prints comes from a mendi -- a henna
design within a linear drawing of a human hand. The template,
intended for any hand, becomes a universal "every hand".
We need only look as far as the imprints on Hollywood's Walk of
Fame to recognize the ubiquity of this particular impulse to memorialize.
Hashimoto incorporates into the pieces
a richly diverse array of primary source material, including Hindi
romance novels, a children's picture book, a bilingual palm reading
manual, excerpts from V.N. Datta's Sati A Historical and Philosophical
Enquiry into the Hindu Rite of Widow Burning, and photos of Roop
Kanwar and the sati marks at Jodhpur.
Nancy Baker Cahill, exerpt from herarticle
in Ceramic Art and Perception