Plaster, India ink
21 pieces: approx. 4.75 x 3.00 x 3.25 inches each
This work is a plaster cast of a protruding tongue, blackened by India Ink with a title and form referencing the iconic mother goddess of creation and destruction, Kali, known for her dark complexion and outstretched tongue. The multiple opposing explanations of the goddess’s tongue sticking out capture the conflicted responses, that not just contemporary India, but any society has to a feminine symbols of power. One story explains that the goddess is in such a fit of rage, madness, and blood-thirst, that like a crazed animal her tongue lolls out, while another explains that in an attempt to stop the goddess’s rampage, her husband lay in her path and Kali stopped short and bit her tongue in embarrassment upon accidentally stepping on her husband’s body. Kali’s protruding tongue explained in terms of rage or shame simultaneously upsets and reinforces our notions of the feminine. On the metaphysical register, Kali signifies the First Principle of the universe which is the power of language or sound of the phonemes.