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Research Article

MF Husain’s Hindi Autobiography Em. Ef. Husain kī kahānī apnī zubānī

Sketches of a Performative Self, Surfing the World in Space and Time

Alessandra Consolaro    Università di Torino    



Drawing from Elizabeth Grosz’s notion of the body as a socio-cultural artefact and the exterior of the subject bodies as psychically constructed, and Rosi Braidotti’s concept of nomadic identities, in this article I introduce world-renowned Indian painter MF Husain’s verbal and visual autobiography Em. Ef. Husen kī kahānī apnī zubānī as a series of sketches of a performative self, surfing the world in space and time. Bodies and spaces are envisioned as “assemblages or collections of parts” in constant movement, crossing borders and creating relationships with other selves and other spaces. People and places become a catalyst for manifestations of the self in art – MF Husain being foremost a painter – and eventually also in literature. I look for strategies that MF Husain uses in order to construct or deconstruct the self through crossings and linkages. I try to investigate how the self is performed inside and outside private and public spaces, how the complex (sometimes even contradictory) relationship between self and community is portrayed, and how this autobiography does articulate notions of (imagined) community/ies, nationalism, transnational subjectivity, nostalgia.

Keywords: MF Husain. Autobiography. Hindi literature. Modernism. Performative self.

Language: en

Submitted: Feb. 5, 2020   Accepted: March 24, 2020   Published: June 30, 2020  

permalink: http://doi.org/10.30687/AnnOr/2385-3042/2020/56/013

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