Ins A Kromminga has just arrived in Delhi. He/she met artist and curator Sunil Gupta earlier this year at a queer arts forum in Spain. On seeing Kromminga’s drawings and learning that he/she was keen to exhibit in India, Gupta invited the intersex artist to the Nigah Queer Festival that will open on Friday and run through 1 November in New Delhi. The 10-day festival is organized by Nigah—a Delhi-based queer collective that works on issues of gender and sexuality.
When we meet, Kromminga is already at work creating an onsite installation for the visual art exhibition as part of the festival. One corner of Siddhartha Hall at Max Mueller Bhavan, where the exhibition will be held, hosts a gigantic organic form that seems to be all tentacles and germinating buds. On this, the artist will paste around 40 of his/her charcoal and watercolour paintings that follow various gender-related themes drawn from mythology and pop culture.
Among his/her favourites is an interactive poster called Public Interest that is inspired by a 1500s artwork that he/she saw in an art encyclopaedia. The viewer can raise a flip portion on the painting of a man to reveal his genitals. For Kromminga, this is a throwback to the perverse curiosity of society and the ridicule that intersex individuals have had to face the world over.
Born in Emden, Germany, in 1970, Kromminga found out about his/her intersexness only at the age of 30. When Kromminga hit puberty, he/she knew that something was different but he/she wasn’t sure what. At 18, doctors had removed his/her testicles, telling him/her that he/she had inflamed ovaries that needed to be operated upon. It was only when Kromminga was applying for graduate school in 2000 that he/she saw his medical records and learned that he/she was born as an intersex or hermaphrodite. This discovery came just before Kromminga started a master’s programme in art at the Tulane University in New Orleans, US. Then, Kromminga started drawing, furiously and prolifically. Much of his/her art education and practice has hence been informed by this identity. Around this time, Kromminga also got involved with several grass-roots level human rights organizations that fight for intersex, transgender and queer people.
German intersex artist Ins A Kromminga with his/her onsite installation as part of the Nigah Queer Festival ’09. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
Kromminga has been living and working as an intersex artist in Berlin since 2003. He/she works in public spaces as well, putting up hermaphrodite signs in public toilets, for instance. Activism is an important aspect of his/her art. “There is so much that needs to be told,” says Kromminga with a characteristic softness. Kromminga explains that his/her major struggle is against dichotomies. “Amongst intersexuals, there are some who can carry babies, some who can impregnate others. But I wouldn’t call them female or male,” says Kromminga, adding, “I know people who live and look like men but have carried babies.”
Click here to view a slideshow of Ins A Kromminga’s curious art
Kromminga’s work will be part of the third edition of the Nigah Queer Festival that will have film screenings, a visual arts exhibition, evening performances, workshops and panel discussions. A photography workshop by Sunil Gupta on visualizing sexuality and the book launch of film-maker and activist Nishit Saran’s Lurkings are other highlights of the festival.
Using his/her paintings, Kromminga will also make a presentation on his/her work as an intersex artist. A public discussion on the need for establishing an Indian discourse on queer art will follow in which he/she will be joined by Shivaji Panniker, former professor of art history at MS University, Baroda.
Images of Desire: Queer Fantasy, which includes Kromminga’s artworks, will be on at Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi, from 23 October-1 November. For the complete festival schedule, visit www.thequeerfest.com