THE

GRANDMOTHER 

           

THEORY

The awe-inspiring columns and wide corridors, lascivious figurines, scent of rotting flowers and burning oil, the feeling of stone on bare feet, and the sounds of chanting from the sanctum sanctorum of the Padmanabhaswami temple - these are all signifiers of an inextricable relationship shared by Geethika and her grandmother. It was in the sand-pits at the temple that a three-year-old Geethika bonded with her spiritually-inclined grandmother – holding hands, sharing stories and wisdom, and most importantly, sharing silence.

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The Grandmother Hypothesis is feminist evolutionary biology attempting to explain the existence of menopause in human life history. It postulates that by providing sustenance and support to their kin, grandmothers not only ensure that their genetic interests are met, but they also enhance the survival of their grandchildren. Such subjectivities inevitably illuminate our experiences and biases, and Geethika’s choice to believe in the hypothesis despite its critique stems from her deeply personal experience of efficient alloparenting by her grandmother, who mitigated the gaps and losses in her childhood that were caused by a dysfunctional family and the voluntary absence of a parent - and truly enhanced her survival as a child.

3D recreation of the temple corridors from memory; Salvaged hard board, waste thermocol, terracotta, stone and sand

Her grandmothers devotion, love and sacrifice imparted strength and value to her existence as a woman, and looking back at the memory with gratitude, Geethika is firm in her belief in this hypothesis that validates what she holds true.

This 3D model was created entirely from juvenile spatial memory, and the process led Geethika to analyse her personal biases towards The Grandmother Theory and the concept of "Alloparenting" proposed by feminist anthropologists and evolutionary biologists, by drawing parallels to her familial circumstances.

Sketches and renderings of the space on A3 paper

Geethika Nair, 21

Geethika R Nair, (she/her) is a final year student at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, specialising in Exhibition and Spatial Design. She is a media agnostic artist and her interests lie in narrative design, scenography, design research and visualisation. Geethika’s practice is rooted in intersectional feminism and a critical approach towards the status quo. She is a recipient of the ERASMUS+ Student Mobility Grant and did an exchange semester at the Glasgow School of Arts, UK. She likes to paint beautiful things in her backyard in Kozhikode, dance like a maniac and cook for the people she loves.

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