Article: ‘Citra Sasmita: Imagined Cosmologies’

Detail of Citra Sasmita’s painting, Bali, April 2023.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries European colonizers routinely controlled the image of Balinese women for economic and political gain, linking, and thereby reducing, the role of women to fertility. Colonial photographers illustrated their anthropological studies with images of bare-breasted women in order to promote the tourism trade from the 1920s onwards, while traditional Balinese Hindu culture and society had long reduced women to superficial representations: witches with aging bodies or nubile young women primed for procreation and childbirth.

A century on from the more pernicious forms of patriarchal and colonial power, artist Citra Sasmita is determined to subvert these dominant, and often prevailing, narratives and structures, in particular the depiction of Balinese women throughout history.

Read more: Art Asia Pacific, 133, May/June 2023. [pdf]