Volatile Presence

BRUCE CLARKE

(1959)

South Africa / United Kingdom

 

Présence Volatile / Volatile Presence

(Phoolan Devi)

 

70 x 50

Watercolour & Collage on Paper

2017

Born into a poor family in rural India in 1963, Phoolan endured poverty as a child, was forced into an arranged marriage at 13 where she was beaten and gang raped before taking to a life of crime. She later became known as the Bandit Queen when she took control and exacted revenge on the other gang members who sequestered and raped her. She became a media figure whilst outlawed and was seen as a modern female Robin Hood principally punishing men who abused women.

 

She surrendered to the police in 1983 and was charged with 48 crimes, including multiple murders, plunder, arson and kidnapping for ransom. She spent eleven years in jail. Due to her popularity, in 1994, the state government withdrew all charges against her, and Phoolan was released. She then stood for election to parliament as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party and was twice elected before being assassinated in 2001.