Sustenance 101

Neeta Madahar (1966 - )

Iris print on Somerset Velvet paper


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  • About the work

    This photograph by Neeta Madahar is drawn from her 2003 series, Sustenance. The artist produced the series after spending 18 months photographing various species of wild birds near the balcony of her home in Framingham, Massachusetts. Using a large-format camera, Madahar obsessively photographed the birds’ daily feeding activities, at the same time documenting the passing shifts in time and the fluctuating seasons. The process of photographing the birds over time was integral to the project, raising questions of habit, change and consistency, while bringing into focus the ephemeral nature of fleeting time. 

    The daily rituals of the birds presented issues of hierarchy, dominance and identification between and within species and raised questions over many aspects of ‘normative’ behaviour. What does the concept of ‘mating for life’ really mean? Are birds monogamous? Are they heterosexual?

    Strange alterations and exaggerations of form in the photograph are exposed in crystalline detail in a physical world that is still and obsessively focused. By allowing us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, Madahar’s work articulates the experience of wonderment and rapture.

    The Sustenance series also resonates with issues of home, migration and belonging.

    As the artist commented: 

    'It is around the concept of ‘home’ and the intangible qualities associated with dwelling that many of my ideas converge: familiarity and strangeness, belonging and migration, prolonged routine and repetition.'

  • About the artist
    Born in London, Neeta Madahar completed a BA in Fine Art at the Winchester School of Art in 1999. She graduated with an MFA in Studio Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston, USA in 2003. She has exhibited her work extensively in the UK and internationally in group shows, including at FACT, Liverpool; Harewood House, Leeds; the Purdy Hicks Gallery, London; and The Cleveland Institute of Arts, Cleveland, Ohio. An exhibition of Madahar’s work was held at the National Media Museum, Bradford, in 2008-09, following her award of the Bradford Fellowship in Photography that year. Her works are held in private and corporate collections around the world, in addition to major public collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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  • Details
    Sustenance 101
    Iris print on Somerset Velvet paper
    height: 89.00 cm, width: 119.50 cm
    Purchased from Purdy Hicks Gallery, March 2006
    verso bl: Neeta K. Madahar "Sustenance 101" (2003) 5/15 Iris print on Somerset Velvet paper - Full size
    Purdy Hicks, London
    GAC number