Indian artistic duo Thukral & Tagra bring their signature style to UCCA this autumn with Match Fixed, a delightfully gaudy and wickedly playful exhibition about social hypocrisy, sexual double standards and the clash of culture, tradition and global aspiration in modern-day India. It satirizes marriage practices in India’s northern state of Punjab, where many young men immigrate abroad to realize their career ambitions, and yet are pressured by their families into arranged matches and sham weddings with nice “suitable” local girls. All too often, the fantasy wedding and honeymoon scenario is followed by an absentee husband who, having enjoyed his holiday and pocketed the dowry, returns to an overseas job with promises to send for his bride at some later date. When the visa papers and plane tickets never arrive, the “toy wife” is left at home alone with her family: abandoned, humiliated and ruined.
Thukral & Tagra envision this phenomenon as a sports match between two competing teams: The Runaway Grooms vs. The Holiday Wives and their fathers. The court upon which they play is decorated with trophies, ornate decorations, garish gifts, ceiling fans draped with flowing silk scarves and television sets playing moving interviews with real-life “holiday wives.” With winners and losers, triumphs and tragedies, scheming and suspense, Match Fixed has all the atmosphere of a bitterly-contested fight to the finish.