Maalai: A Sound Installation

Maalai is a sound installation by Lakshmi Ramgopal at Chicago's Comfort Station. The installation uses Hindu iconography; written and photographic materials; and Tamil and English recordings of women in Ramgopal's family and conversations between Ramgopal, her mother, and grandmother to explore diaspora, colonialism, and intergenerational trauma. Grappling with historian Antoinette Burton’s claim that the memories of home narrated by the women of India’s Late Colonial Period created “an archive from which a variety of counterhistories of colonial modernity can be discerned,” the installation asks how South Indian women in pre- and post-1947 India preserve their personal histories and when they choose to self-erase.

The installation closes with a short improvised performance by Ramgopal which incorporates the Sanskrit, Tamil, and Hindi hymns and lullabies on Sunday at 8:30pm.