Suchitra Mattai: Delicate Unravelings

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Installation shot of Mala, 2018. Found fiber, crocheted fiber, video. ©  Suchitra Mattai. Courtesy of the artist and K Contemporary. Photo: Parker Daley.

The artist uses woven textiles, mass-produced objects, and video as materials to create invented landscapes—often inhabited with women protagonists (or traces of them)—that are reflective of diasporic histories and inter-generational memories.



The Women’s Work Issue coincides with the Women’s Work: Art & Activism in the 21st Century exhibition at Pen and Brush in New York City. On view April 10 – August 2, 2019.

Well before computers, weaving looms were one of the first machines to be programmed. And it was a woman—the 19th century mathematician Ada Lovelace—who saw the connection between Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s programmed loom, which used punch cards to determine which of the textile’s warp threads should be lifted up and when, and the potential for algorithmic calculations.

Lovelace wrote the first computer program for an invention Charles Babbage conceived in 1834. She explained in a letter to him: “The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.” That it was a woman from the Victorian era who saw this connection speaks to the fact that many trades seen traditionally as the purview of men have long been shaped by women.

Suchitra Mattai illuminates women’s work through intermedia projects that reflect both tradition and technological rifts and shifts. Found and readymade objects, from vintage saris to cut-up magazines, populate Mattai’s oeuvre.

The artist uses woven textiles, mass-produced objects, and video as materials to create invented landscapes—often inhabited with women protagonists (or traces of them)—that are reflective of diasporic histories and inter-generational memories. The Guyanese-born Mattai learned the processes around creating these works from her Indian mother and grandmother, highlighting the importance of maintaining diasporic cultural knowledges.

Mattai shapes her landscapes with circulating cultural traditions that span multiple continents, including India, the Americas, and Europe. Traditionally, landscape scenes have been woven into tapestries and prints; Mattai in turn adopts cloth to create abstract topographical landscapes. She contrasts mass production through prints and factory woven-materials with the handmade processes of assemblage, collage, and textile craft techniques.

Installation shot of The Sweeter Side, 2019. Vintage saris, belt, fiber, tassel, faux plant, metal frame. ©  Suchitra Mattai. Courtesy of the artist and K Contemporary. Photo: Parker Daley.

Frames are a recurring motif in Mattai’s work. In The Sweeter Side (2019), supple vintage saris are stretched and pulled tensely, texturally contrasting with the solid silver metal frame that maintains the textile’s forms. Yet, loose threads hang at the bottom of the composition and softly contrast with the frame to reveal the delicate unraveling of the work itself. The undulating pattern in The Sweeter Side is disrupted by white cloth rope and an unbuckled belt; their purpose of binding, holding up, and supporting is rendered functionless.

In Mala (2018), meaning “garland” in Sanskrit, the frame contrasts with its construction. Soft, found crocheted fiber creates a curtained border for a video screen that plays an image of a moving mountainous landscape, intermixed with blurs and blocks of blue, black, and white.

In one collage, Mattai includes fragments of a painting depicting the fantastic, imaginary cityscape of sixteenth-century Venice, a global trading giant and center of luxury textile manufacturing. The image comes from Paolo Veronese’s Italian Mannerist work Mars and Neptune (1575 – 78).


Within the Frame, 2019. ©  Suchitra Mattai. Courtesy of the artist and K Contemporary.

Mars, the Roman god of war, and Neptune, the god of the sea, represent the Venetian empire’s dominion over land and water. Veronese represents this strength through hyper-masculinity, which Mattai then visually and physically disrupts with a silhouette of a calm, meditating, gender-fluid figure that floats in front of Veronese’s chaotic cityscape. In another of Mattai’s collages, the same silhouetted form embodies Veronese’s image and contrasts it with a green map of the mountains and towns of central California.





Installation shot of collages, 2019. ©  Suchitra Mattai. Courtesy of the artist and K Contemporary.

Mattai weaves and pastes disparate spaces and creates textual and textural adjacencies to remind the viewer that women today, much like Lovelace in the 19th century, are continually creating, shaping, and activating new terrains.

Marisa Lerer is an Assistant Professor of art history at Manhattan College, where she teaches courses in modern and contemporary art. She specializes in Latin American and Latinx art, public art, and memorials. Her interest in art and social justice movements are reflected in her publications, which have appeared in the journals Public Art Dialogue and Visual Resources, among others. She has been honored with fellowships from Fulbright, New York University/Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique, and CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture and Politics. She is currently working on a book examining memorials to Argentina’s victims of state-sponsored terrorism.


OF NOTE Magazine is free to readers, free of advertising, and free of subscriptions—all made possible by generous supporters like you. Your tax-deductible gift will help us continue to feature innovative and emerging global artists using the arts as tools for social change.
OF NOTE Magazine is a fiscally sponsored organization of the New York Foundation for the Arts, a 501 (c) (3), tax-exempt organization. All donations are 100% tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 0 Flares ×


633 Responses to “Suchitra Mattai: Delicate Unravelings”
  1. yeezy boost says:

    I really wanted to jot down a quick note in order to thank you for all the pleasant facts you are giving out on this site. My incredibly long internet research has at the end been honored with good facts to write about with my close friends. I ‘d repeat that most of us readers are truly lucky to be in a decent place with very many brilliant individuals with great principles. I feel somewhat grateful to have encountered your entire webpages and look forward to really more cool moments reading here. Thanks a lot once again for a lot of things.

  2. seo says:

    Some really nice stuff on this website , I like it.

  3. please visit the web-sites we comply with, including this one particular, because it represents our picks in the web

  4. Great blog right here! Also your site loads up fast! What web host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate link for your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol

  5. I want to get across my admiration for your kind-heartedness giving support to people that actually need guidance on this one niche. Your very own commitment to getting the message all over had been especially informative and has specifically enabled people much like me to get to their goals. The important help and advice signifies so much to me and even more to my office colleagues. Regards; from everyone of us.

  6. Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is actually annoying. A good site with exciting content, this is what I need. Thank you for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

  7. My wife and i have been very satisfied that Jordan managed to do his basic research through the entire precious recommendations he made in your web site. It’s not at all simplistic to just find yourself freely giving instructions which often a number of people may have been trying to sell. And we already know we now have the writer to thank because of that. All of the illustrations you’ve made, the straightforward site navigation, the friendships you will give support to create – it is everything remarkable, and it’s leading our son in addition to us understand this situation is cool, which is pretty important. Thank you for all!

  8. here are some links to websites that we link to mainly because we believe they may be really worth visiting

  9. I enjoy you because of all of your labor on this site. My mom enjoys getting into internet research and it’s really simple to grasp why. Most people hear all about the powerful medium you render practical items through this blog and as well improve contribution from website visitors on that area of interest so our own child is certainly becoming educated a lot. Take advantage of the rest of the year. You’re conducting a splendid job.

  10. you are really a good webmaster. The site loading pace is incredible. It seems that you are doing any distinctive trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you’ve performed a wonderful process on this matter!

  11. I wanted to send you this very little note to help say thanks the moment again relating to the beautiful guidelines you have provided here. It has been simply surprisingly generous of people like you in giving freely what a few individuals might have advertised for an ebook to generate some cash for their own end, precisely considering the fact that you might have done it in case you wanted. These ideas in addition acted to become a easy way to be aware that other people have the identical zeal much like mine to know the truth more and more with regards to this condition. I am sure there are several more enjoyable occasions ahead for people who check out your blog.

  12. I am only writing to make you know what a really good experience my cousin’s girl had going through your site. She noticed several pieces, which include how it is like to possess an incredible teaching spirit to have certain people without problems fully understand specific problematic topics. You truly did more than my expectations. I appreciate you for churning out these helpful, healthy, explanatory not to mention unique thoughts on your topic to Ethel.

  13. apps for pc says:

    we like to honor numerous other internet web-sites on the net, even though they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Underneath are some webpages worth checking out

  14. below youll find the link to some web-sites that we consider you’ll want to visit

  15. descargasmix says:

    Sites of interest we’ve a link to

  16. hermes says:

    I really wanted to construct a small remark so as to say thanks to you for all the fantastic tips and hints you are giving at this website. My rather long internet search has now been paid with reliable insight to talk about with my company. I would declare that we visitors are extremely lucky to live in a notable website with so many perfect professionals with insightful tips and hints. I feel rather privileged to have seen your entire weblog and look forward to tons of more awesome times reading here. Thank you once more for everything.

  17. businesses says:

    My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was entirely right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine just how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  18. air max 97 says:

    I wanted to write down a quick word to be able to thank you for all the unique secrets you are giving at this site. My long internet investigation has at the end of the day been rewarded with excellent suggestions to talk about with my family and friends. I would repeat that most of us visitors are very endowed to exist in a useful website with so many perfect individuals with great points. I feel pretty grateful to have seen the weblog and look forward to really more amazing minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once again for everything.

  19. pc article says:

    I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I’m hoping the same high-grade website post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it.

  20. I together with my buddies came checking out the excellent tactics on the website while suddenly came up with a terrible suspicion I had not thanked the web site owner for those techniques. These boys came consequently passionate to read all of them and have in effect unquestionably been taking advantage of those things. Thanks for genuinely well kind and then for deciding on this kind of essential information millions of individuals are really needing to learn about. My personal honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.

  21. I precisely needed to thank you so much again. I do not know what I might have taken care of in the absence of the type of tricks shared by you relating to my area. It was before the difficult matter in my position, but encountering the very skilled technique you solved that made me to jump with gladness. I’m happier for this information and expect you realize what a great job that you are undertaking training the others using a web site. I’m certain you have never met any of us.

  22. Wow, incredible weblog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The entire look of your web site is magnificent, as smartly as the content material!

  23. dildo review says:

    The facts mentioned inside the article are several of the most effective offered

  24. always a large fan of linking to bloggers that I really like but do not get quite a bit of link really like from

  25. Thank you a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally terrific opportunity to read articles and blog posts from here. It can be very amazing and packed with amusement for me and my office acquaintances to search the blog not less than thrice weekly to study the new tips you have got. And lastly, I’m also certainly motivated concerning the awesome creative ideas you serve. Certain 3 points in this article are particularly the simplest I have ever had.

  26. Very good written story. It will be helpful to everyone who utilizes it, including me. Keep up the good work – looking forward to more posts.

  27. Very well written article. It will be valuable to anyone who utilizes it, as well as me. Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

  28. fila shoes says:

    I am glad for commenting to make you be aware of what a incredible discovery my friend’s daughter went through checking the blog. She mastered too many pieces, most notably how it is like to have an amazing helping character to let men and women quite simply comprehend chosen extremely tough topics. You undoubtedly did more than readers’ expected results. I appreciate you for presenting these useful, trustworthy, edifying and in addition easy guidance on that topic to Evelyn.

  29. After all, what a great site and informative posts, I will upload inbound link – bookmark this web site? Regards, Reader.

  30. I would like to show my affection for your kindness supporting women who should have assistance with this one study. Your real commitment to getting the message all-around appeared to be quite significant and have truly empowered guys and women like me to achieve their targets. Your invaluable instruction indicates a great deal a person like me and additionally to my office colleagues. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

  31. nike react says:

    I and my friends appeared to be checking the nice pointers located on your web page and at once came up with a terrible suspicion I had not thanked the site owner for them. All of the guys are actually certainly warmed to see all of them and have now quite simply been tapping into those things. Thanks for getting indeed helpful and then for selecting this form of decent topics most people are really wanting to be informed on. Our own sincere apologies for not expressing appreciation to sooner.

  32. Only wanna admit that this is extremely helpful, Thanks for taking your time to write this.

  33. health care says:

    Wonderful work! That is the type of information that are supposed to be shared across the web. Shame on the seek engines for no longer positioning this post higher! Come on over and consult with my web site . Thank you =)

  34. Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely well written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  35. best western says:

    we like to honor numerous other internet internet sites around the net, even though they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Beneath are some webpages worth checking out

  36. jordans says:

    I enjoy you because of all of your hard work on this site. Kate really likes getting into investigations and it is easy to understand why. We all notice all of the dynamic ways you create rewarding tips and hints by means of the web blog and as well as cause response from other ones on the concept so our simple princess is really becoming educated a whole lot. Enjoy the rest of the year. You have been conducting a stunning job.

  37. You are a very smart person!

  38. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I’ve really loved surfing around your weblog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing in your feed and I’m hoping you write again very soon!

  39. Hi , I do believe this is an excellent blog. I stumbled upon it on Yahoo , i will come back once again. Money and freedom is the best way to change, may you be rich and help other people.

  40. I intended to draft you that tiny note to be able to say thanks a lot the moment again with the nice information you have documented at this time. It’s pretty generous of you to supply without restraint all that a number of people could have offered as an e book to help make some money on their own, and in particular seeing that you could possibly have done it in case you decided. Those basics also worked to provide a great way to recognize that the rest have a similar interest similar to mine to see somewhat more with reference to this matter. I think there are some more fun instances up front for many who looked at your site.

  41. I am glad for writing to let you understand of the wonderful experience my cousin’s child enjoyed checking yuor web blog. She noticed a good number of issues, most notably how it is like to have an awesome teaching character to get a number of people just fully understand chosen specialized issues. You really did more than our own desires. Thank you for imparting such necessary, safe, educational not to mention cool thoughts on the topic to Janet.

  42. My wife and i got absolutely lucky Albert managed to conclude his reports through the entire ideas he received when using the blog. It is now and again perplexing just to find yourself giving for free information which often some people could have been selling. And now we figure out we now have the website owner to appreciate for that. Most of the illustrations you’ve made, the simple web site navigation, the friendships your site aid to promote – it’s got everything exceptional, and it’s letting our son in addition to us reckon that that subject matter is excellent, and that’s incredibly important. Thank you for all!

  43. Perfect piece of work you have done, this internet site is really cool with excellent info .

  44. nfl jerseys says:

    I together with my guys have been checking the nice guidelines from your website and so quickly got a horrible feeling I never thanked the web blog owner for those strategies. The guys were definitely for that reason glad to read all of them and have now quite simply been taking advantage of those things. Appreciation for turning out to be really kind as well as for settling on some fabulous guides millions of individuals are really needing to discover. My personal sincere regret for not saying thanks to earlier.

  45. drama says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.

  46. sports says:

    I really appreciate this post. I¡¦ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again

  47. games says:

    I do believe all of the concepts you’ve offered to your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too quick for newbies. Could you please extend them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

  48. It¡¦s actually a cool and helpful piece of information. I¡¦m glad that you simply shared this useful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  49. Have you ever considered publishing an ebook or guest authoring on other websites? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would really like to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would appreciate your work. If you’re even remotely interested, feel free to send me an email.

  50. we prefer to honor lots of other world-wide-web web pages around the net, even though they arent linked to us, by linking to them. Under are some webpages really worth checking out


0 Flares Facebook 0 Twitter 0 0 Flares ×