Rosalyn D’Mello

Overview of the work table of Chiara Vigo, the only surviving keeper of the sea silk-making tradition (bisso), in her studio at the Museo del Bisso in Sant’Antioco, Sardinia. Photo: Rosalyn D'Mello.

In the Name of the Mother

At the heart of Rosalyn D’Mello’s ongoing speculative artistic research is her “study” of “art” made by housewives (married/unmarried), mystics, and spinsters. The approach is transgressive of nation-state world-ordering systems responsible for conventionally ghettoizing female and feminist artistic practice, rarely allowing for the imagination of cross-border, cross-temporal discourses. Instead, her methodology – part-structured-part-intuitive-part-embodiment-based – allows for trans-generational and transcontinental conversations between female “outsider” artists and self-trained or trained artists whose practices were never or belatedly validated and whose legacies fell into the gaps of art history. Her study attentively reconsiders and relates the art and life work of housewives, mystics, and spinsters to the work of contemporary feminist artists, thus re-visibilizing and re-contextualizing both systems of legacy, and consequently, re-locating lost female subjectivity. In doing so, she will dialogue continually within the non-linear parameters of past, present, and future in order to critique what was allowed to be called art, by whom, and the ensuing historical erasures generated by racist and hetero-patriarchal art historical discourses.

Besides arriving at a sense of the inner lives of such women through a range of manifestations of their artistic engagement with the every day domestic, such as epistolary correspondences, manuscripts and diaries left behind in desk drawers, or recipe books, Rosalyn’s research will assume the form of a metabolic essay that consciously feeds upon itself as it is generated. In the Name of the Mother is committed to understanding how these “outsider” female artists engineered ways of belonging to themselves by locating their intellectual and creative agencies within the “privacy” of the domestic.

Text source: Rosalyn D’Mello

Rosalyn D’Mello (she/her) grew up as a “Bombay Goan” in Mumbai. She graduated in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and earned her Master’s degree from the Centre of English Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. After a brief stint as a theatre critic in Mumbai, in 2010, she adopted Delhi as her base for almost ten years before moving to her current location in Tramin, an alpine town in the autonomous province of South Tyrol in Italy. Over her decade-long career as a freelancer, she has performed various callings as a feminist writer, art critic, columnist, essayist, editor, researcher, consultant, and proofreader across industries.
She is currently a TBA21 Ocean Fellowship 2021 Mentor. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, A Handbook for my Lover. She is also the recipient of the India Foundation for the Arts arts research grant (2019-2020), which is supporting her ongoing research for her forthcoming book for Oxford University Press, India, based on her visits to Indian artists’ studios. Since January 2016, she has been writing a weekly memoir-based, feminist column for mid-day. She writes fortnightly art columns for STIR while her criticism frequently appears in the Indian weekly magazine Open. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary anthologies, such as Dress (HarperCollins India, 2018), Walking towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell their Stories (HarperCollins India, 2016; Hardie Grant Australia, 2016) and collections of art criticism, including Critical Writing Ensembles: Dhaka Art Summit 2016 (Office for Contemporary Art, Norway; Mousse Publishing, 2016) and Navigating the Planetary (Verlag für moderne Kunst, 2020). She was previously the editor of BLOUINARTINFO India (2012-2014) and was nominated for the Forbes’ Best Emerging Art Writer Award in 2014. She was also shortlisted for the Prudential Eye Art Award for Best Writing on Asian Contemporary Art in 2014. She was an evaluator for The Andy Warhol Foundation Art Writers Grant in 2020.