Shine Shivan on the Pont Alexandre III, Paris 2014
photo Hervé Perdriolle
Sperm Weaver was a promising first solo show for Shine Shivan. Five clusters of provocative works made in 2009, all of which toy with traditional notions of masculine identity, lled the cavernous warehouse space. Leaving the chaotic street outside, one found a cool, dark interior and a dream world of gender play, manifested in a diverse array of sculptures, photographs and video.
Shivan explicitly appropriated a female role with his in situ construction of two 11-foot-tall dung towers (these traditional rural forms are customarily built in India only by women); he does the same in his fabrication techniques, which include crocheting, weaving and sewing.
While the actions and processes may be feminine, the forms most often refer to male genitalia and male sexuality: feminizing the masculine, he also does the reverse. Notwithstanding the strength of Shivan’s video and photographic work, the most innovative pieces on view were sculptures hanging on the walls.
Just inside the entrance was Empty Spaces between Desire and Fantasy, an arrangement of lozenge-shaped forms handcrafted from dried thorns, gourds, pumpkins and cloth, and stitched together with thread. Bristling threateningly, these ingeniously crafted shapes invite close scrutiny. Even more labor intensive is Used Dicks; its dangling forms are made from real bird nests fastidiously covered with a woven layer of Shivan’s mother’s hair.
Shivan casts a wide net of references: to mythology, to earthworks, to fellow Indian artists Tejal Shah and Sheela Gowda, certainly, and maybe to American artists Petah Coyne and Harmony Hammond as well. With his formal ingenuity and charged subject matter, Shivan will be a compelling artist to follow.
By Susan Hapgood "Art in America" March 2010.