Bharti Kher, The skin speaks a language not its own, 2006
In India, the bindi is traditionally a mark of pigment applied to the forehead of Hindu men and women to symbolise the ‘third eye’. In her work, Kher uses thousands of tiny, white stick-on bindis to cover the surface of a life-sized fibreglass elephant, who reclines here exhausted, even dying. The white elephant is revered throughout Asia as a symbol of dignity, intelligence and strength. Ironically, in English, the expression ‘white elephant’ is used to describe something large and useless. In The skin speaks a language not its own, the white elephant and the bindi are used to question cultural value.