“Where should we go after the last frontiers, Where should the birds fly after the last sky?”
– Mahmoud Darwish
The project started off as an investigation into victims’ lives of 2002 Gujarat riots has become a living memorial of the endless waiting for justice. 10 years have passed and the city has moved on erasing all the traces of violence. Traces remain only in the hearts of people.
Human bodies that became sites of violence have been pushed into garbage areas. All the ruptured memories have been silenced by the overwhelming infrastructural development. This is an attempt to surface what is hidden behind the ‘so called development’.
This image was part of an installation at Gulburg Society in Ahmedabad at the 10th anniversary of Gujarat riots. All the images are installation shots at the memorial.
I was in the 2nd standard of school when I learnt that India is an agriculture-based economy. I had never set foot on a farm back then. Today, after all these years, I have a farm on a virtual online game. I harvest my crops, feed my animals and buy pixels of land. It is my negotiation of being a farmer online and a practicing photographer away from the keyboard that has resulted in this body of work.
Today, the perfect red tomatoes, those genetically modified eggplants and even sized potato chips are what we recognize as healthy edible food. In this digital fantasy of perfection the farmer gets lost somewhere. Stories from the land and the farm have vanished in the face of this new culture of food consumption and farmhouses. The agriculture-based economy is a textbook dream in the wake of extreme industrialization and the ever-growing hybrid food industry. In the midst of such narratives, the farmer disappears in death and food in genetics.
Expanding my farm online is just a click away and I can be content with the illusion of knowing all about farming.
These images are made on the computer using apparatuses borrowed from the camera. The world we inhabit is one of digital aesthetic and our sense of beauty is constantly changing with the introduction of new technologies and commodities. Cameras make food look more appealing, while the food industry, in return, makes food that looks picture perfect. These photographs push the digital imagining to a breaking point. Pixels are the realities behind these digital beauties. Pixels are the reality we do not want to see in the same manner, we’d rather not see food that looks picture perfect. By breaking into those pixels with these images, dinner is served.
How does one negotiate desire within the hegemonic rules of love and marriage? When the utterance ‘love’ is barred, if one is denied access to a romantic self, how, then, can one inhabit a relationship with another? When ‘the undesirable’ body and polymorphous sexualities do not exist in language, how can one love in the name of this body?
Access to love and sexuality is a constant struggle. Marriage and notions of heterosexuality are so deeply rooted within us that it is impossible to find a language of desire outside it. Phrases such as ‘I love you’, ‘I want to be with you’, ‘Will you be mine’ and so on are so claimed by the heterosexual marriage spaces so that other forms of desire or love escape these expressions.
This narrative tries to encompass such complexities of desires. It is told from the first person point of view of the fictional character Medusa. In mythology, Medusa was raped in the temple of Athena. Enraged, the goddess Athena turned Medusa’s hair into serpents and cursed that whoever looked at her would turn to stone. Not only was Medusa raped, but was also forced into a life long exile. In this work, Medusa is not the woman who repulses the gaze, who is forced to be an asexual being. This is a story of her love affairs.
Mythologically, in order to win the battle of Mahabharata, Arjuna’s son Aravan who was born to a Naga princess was chosen to be sacrificed. One of his last wishes was to be married for a night before he was killed. No woman would marry him, as she would be a widow next morning. Krishna turns himself into a female avatar, named Mohini and marries Aravan. Mohini becomes widow the next morning.
Transgender community from all over south India celebrates this moment in a small village Koovagam every year. Many marry the lord Aravan and later perform the rites of widowhood the very next morning.
This body of work is an imagination of this story in contemporary India and thinking through the political and social climate today that has become increasingly abusive towards diverse gender identities and sexualities. It is about gender that is always in flux so is our connection to our mythologies.
This project is a collaboration between various artists.