"What we share with Madahar is a sense of wonder." —Carlo McCormick
Sustenance 95, 2003, is from Neeta Madahar's 15-image Sustenance series, which documents various species of birds coming to feed at the apartment balcony of her former home in Framingham, Massachusetts. In recent years, Madahar's work has explored how animal and plant life adapt to a set of environmental circumstances both man-made and natural. She is fascinated by the temporality of nature and how perpetual cycles of difference and similarity coexist. "[They are] so similar to us in the way they feed and socialize, in their patterns of behavior, that they became perfect symbols . . . as a natural extension of ourselves," Madahar says. This image appeared in the summer 2005 issue of Aperture magazine alongside a text written by Carlo McCormick.
The dioramic feel of the images in this series is intentional. Each Iris print on Somerset velvet paper (most often associated with watercolors) is an exaggerated impression of reality. Formal devices such as artificial lighting, as well as the selective use of focus and magnification, create a slippage between the perception of what is natural or manufactured. Color, too, is used deliberately to seduce the viewer into a closer and more protracted examination of the works. Madahar "frames such casual sightings as a bird in a backyard as precious, defining moments," notes Carlo McCormick. "What she captures is more than a mere pose within the fleeting: it is a rich, contemplative stillness; a chance for both artist and viewer to look, with mesmeric clarity of detail, at the avian community whose constant cohabitation with humans has rendered their presence ostensibly incidental."
Neeta Madahar (born in London, 1966) received her MFA from the Museum School at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2003. A British citizen of Indian descent who has lived and worked in the U.S., Madahar's thesis project, Sustenance, was shown at the Arles Festival curated by Martin Parr in 2005, followed by shows in Boston, London, and Germany. Since then, she has exhibited extensively in Europe and the USA with her dramatic, nature-related series.