Divya Mehra (b. 1981, Winnepeg, Canada)
Divya Mehra’s multimedia work incorporates comedic and often slapstick elements in order to address issues of cultural identity, displacement, and appropriation. For Art Breaks, Mehra uses artist Richard Prince’s original Art Breaks video from 1985 as a point of departure. In that earlier video, Prince, dressed in a white shirt and dress pants nonchalantly turns to address the camera, smiles, and then delivers a short monologue convincing the youth-of-the-time to stay home—if, and only if, they are equipped with Art and MTV. The gag playfully subverts and references the popular slogan ‘Don’t Leave Home Without It’, coined for American Express commercials. Like Prince, in her video Mehra appears dressed in a white ensemble, standing directly in front of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. After purchasing an ice cream cone from a vendor, the ice cream topples over due to its exaggerated height, ruining her clothing and leaving the viewer with a sense of her personal frustration. In this sense, the work fails before it even begins; the connection established between Mehra, an emerging female artist whose personal history lies intertwined in the post-partition South Asian Diaspora, and well-known male artist Richard Prince, evokes the humorous relationship between Danny DeVito’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s characters in the 1988 blockbuster movie Twins. Mehra’s work has been included in a number of exhibitions and screenings across the US and overseas, most notably at The Queens Museum of Art and The Guild Art Gallery in New York (2009, 2010), the Beijing 798 Biennale (2009), Plug In ICA in Winnipeg, Canada (2009), and Gallery OED in Cochin, India (2009). Since 2006, she has also been the recipient of various grants and fellowships.
Divya Mehra currently lives and works in Winnepeg, Manitoba.