Large black figures cast in steel loomed over the India Art Fair as it opened on Friday with the display of the eerie silhouettes seeking to highlight the country’s millions of “missing” women.
The outdoor installation called M.I.S.S.I.N.G. by artist Leena Kejriwal is a visual response to alarming research showing a gaping gender gap in India, which has led to severe imbalances in some parts of the country.
Caused by sex-selective abortion, infanticide and the death of girls through neglect, the issue is part of a national debate about women’s rights sparked by fresh scrutiny of sexual violence.
The three outsized sculptures are meant to be “like sharp, black holes cut out of the sky. Holes into which millions of girls disappear from the face of this earth”, according to Kejriwal’s description of the project. India’s 2011 census data showed that just 914 girls are born nationwide per 1,000 boys – much behind the global benchmark of 952 – reflecting a cultural preference for male heirs. The India Art fair has been phenomenally successful since its first edition in 2008 and now draws leading local and international galleries and artists, as well as hundreds of thousands of members of the public.
This year organisers signalled their intent to tackle some of the issues thrown up by the sweeping changes underway in the world’s biggest democracy, wrought by economic development and globalisation.
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