2 March 2024

Ballad of a Woman

by Nalini Malani

Part of Alserkal Art Week

Accompanying Can You Hear Me? will be a series of outdoor screenings of an adapted version of Nalini Malani’s new work.

Starts 7:00 pm

Venue The Yard


Ballad of a Woman is a 5-minute single channel stop motion animation hand-drawn on iPad.

This playful yet jarring animation is inspired by Alfred Jarry’s theatre play Ubu Roi and Wislawa Szymborska’s ‘honest Ballad, penned neither to shock nor to offend’. Nalini Malani questions a world in which our complacency allows for a world of deep and absurd inequity, between race and gender, and throughout society. While remaining accessible, her work also reminds us that the role of the artist and intellectual is to serve as our social conscience, bringing to light and contesting suffering that can no longer be ignored, nor repressed.

7PM | The Yard

About the exhibition

Can You Hear Me? by Nalini Malani

Textual and visual quotations, annotations and snippets of sound and music — what the artist calls ‘thought bubbles’— come together, intersect, and are taken apart in Nalini Malani’s ‘animation chamber’, a powerful expression of outrage against the persistence of social violence and global injustice. Malani draws upon a lifetime of consistent engagement, across cultures, with the art and literature of conscience and resistance; her memory bank of quotes and palimpsest of visual references range from Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Samuel Beckett to Hannah Arendt and Goya, from Sita and Draupadi to Medea, Alice and Cassandra, female archetypes that the artist has made her own through drawing and redrawing them, shifting and reimprinting their narrative arcs through her layered practice of combining word and text with still and moving images. These voices and figures, expressing fear, anguish, anger and betrayal, become a chorus against historic injustice, particularly patriarchal and systemic violence, coalescing here in a nine-channel video installation of 88 iPad hand drawn animations made from 2018-2020. Projected large-scale in this immersive iteration within Concrete, this work inhabits the architectural expanse of the space with unprecedented theatrical impact.

At the centre of this audio-visual sensorium is the voice of a little girl; while this work was inspired by a news story of one horrific incident, it is one of many failures of our time to protect the most vulnerable. In evoking the voices of a collective conscience, Malani warns us that the modern and progressive promise to create a better world remains not simply unfulfilled, but is at risk of being irredeemably broken.