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Dangerous Woman in Dangerous Relationship, 2020

Khushi Nandgaonkar

Carnegie Mellon University


This series of transfer prints examines the power dynamics of an intimate relationship by staging various domestic scenes. The domestic setting hints at gender roles society assumes for women, while also equating the wild animals to a man. Furthermore, having an animal take on the part of a human also hints at more primal desires related to power and sex, the basis for this work. However, this artwork goes deeper because there exists a tangible tension in the prey-predator, human-animal, real-virtual relationship that is at the center of this series and culminates in the physical embodiment of these transferred photographs that leave cloudy residues and impressions that look like claw marks on the surface. This relationship between the two characters is also further confused by positioning the woman as both the appeaser, grooming, feeding, sheltering these animals--and as their master that potentially has the weaponry to kill them or ridicule them and parade them around in a spectacle fashion. So, this relationship is complicated with both beings potentially exerting power over the other one – similar to how an intimate relationship usually plays out: each partner trying to exert control over the other.

This series of transfer prints, depicting various domestic encounters between woman and animal, examines power dynamics that manifest in intimate relationships. The domestic setting of the prints offers insight into the various gendered roles that the woman assumes: grooming, pacifying, and pleasing her animal-partner. The animal (man), on the other hand, is paradoxically passive, attendant, and anticipating. The symbolism of man as predator interrogates more primal desires pertaining to power and sex which arise and often favor him. The work explores the tensions of these different relationships – prey-predator, human-animal, real-virtual – which culminate in the physical awkwardness of the two subjects sharing a space. These tensions become tangible in the physicality of these transferred photographs, which leave cloudy residues and tears resembling claw-marks on their surface. The relationship between the two subjects is further confused by an anthropological perspective since the woman, by virtue of her humanity, is privileged in this sense. Thus the series becomes a reflection on both covert and overt methods of pursuing control over an intimate other, complicated by the mutual reciprocity of these ambitions.

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