Shahmen Suku

Language/Language group: Tamil/Malayalee/English
Instagram: @radhalabia

Shahmen Suku was born in 1987 in Singapore and arrived in Australia in 2009. They are a performance artist based in Sydney who explore ideas of racial, religious and cultural identity, gender roles, the home and the kitchen, food and storytelling. Growing up in a modern matriarchal Indian family in Singapore, Shahmen processes his sense of displacement from home as Radha, the Diva from India. Moving to Australia has given Shahmen multiple perspectives on migration, culture, race, colonisation and gender identity. Shahmen discusses these issues openly through his alter ego, Radha, sharing stories the way she learnt them from his mother’s kitchen. Radha’s multifaceted practice has also seen them perform/host numerous music festivals and events, shows and workshops for kids and a Chef for the TV show The Set on The ABC. 

Original Action


5, 6, 7, 8 

Titled after the song by pop band Steps, 5, 6, 7, 8 shows me in my domestic space running through 52 steps to create one of my family’s coveted dishes. This recipe has only been handed down by the matriarch of the family to me.








Go Deeper


Here are some links of videos I grew up watching and some that influence my work.

Take Action


Storytelling and cooking are an intrinsic part of my art practice, growing up in the kitchen while helping my mother or aunt cook is where I learnt our family histories. Oral histories are a huge part of my life, but they also carry inaccuracies – much like with the recipes that are handed down in my family. They sometimes have incorrect spices, or even some omitted to withhold that knowledge. So let us make up some more of these recipes and stories.

Create a Dish and invent a Story: 

Step 1: Pick a protein
(e.g. Chicken, Tofu, Mushroom, Kidney Beans, chickpea)

Step 2: Pick the other ingredients – think of these as the main characters of your story.
(e.g. Kashmiri Chilli powder for that very spicy aunty)

Step 3: Write down the steps and when to add these ingredients

Step 4: For each step write an anecdote or a mini part of the story

Step 5: Bring them altogether to create a full event/story

Step 6: Name the dish

Feel free to use your imagination but if you do have a real recipe that reminds you of a family event share that too!