Siri Devi Khandavilli has created a series of gods closely resembling the idols of her Hindu faith which, on closer inspection, turn out to be tributes to our all-too-human fascination with money, sexuality, and glamor.
Shayana Sundari, a sensuous bronze sculpture that Khandavilli sometimes mischievously calls her “Golden Poodle Diety,” was named after an ancient temple statue and cast in the manner of countless Hindu idols—using termite mound and river mud. And yet this seemingly traditional goddess boasts the haughty pompadour of a show poodle, reclining luxuriously, and mimicking such art historical masterpieces as Titian's Venus of Urbino or Manet's Olympia.
Khandavilli, who resides in Bangalore, India, delights in her sly insertion of the chic poodle deity into the realm of the sacred. “People there don’t know whether it’s a real god or a sculpture,” says Khandavilli, “They come to me and ask, ‘what is this god?’”
While her idols’ origins and method of production may be rooted in history, their dominion as Khandavilli envisions it comprises nothing less than the motivation for all of our human endeavors, both ancient and modern. Throughout her career, which spans painting, performance, film, and installation, Khandavilli has examined, in a refreshingly candid manner, the way that self-interest and desire manifests in society—in both our modern idolatry of designer handbags and shoes, and our timeless yearning for a more substantial worldview.