My current project titled ‘Mending Cracks’ reflects my location in Canada, but in this case this is because of the distance this place provides. The central theme of the present series I am working on–entitled ‘Mending Cracks’–is disability, trauma and the complex process of recovery. I was buried under rubble in the 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, India. Long-term, this resulted in the partial paralysis and atrophy of my left arm. I also found myself faced with a further battle to get over it both psychologically and physically in the months and years that followed. Through this process, I realized the complex meaning of “mending.” There is the healing process, on one level, of the things that can heal. Beyond that, one needs to learn to live with such a trauma, and to live with it well.
I am visualizing this experience by exploring the experience of the incident and the experiences of ‘loss’ that it made so central to my life. I am doing this, however, not only in personal terms, but also through exploring how trauma is experienced and combatted by others. Drawing on my past experience in community-based interactions and research through dialogue, I will interact with artists and others through my current affiliation with the Institute of Asian Research at UBC to explore such issues in visual terms across community and national boundaries. As a newcomer to Canada, I am particularly anxious to initiate dialogue with First Nations artists along these lines, furthering the dialogues that have driven my work to date. I will also connect these experiences and issues to the histories of communities in India that have experienced and are currently experiencing traumatic loss.
The work as a whole will consist of a set of large and small paintings in watercolor and acrylic, and sculptural objects constructed out of X-ray sheets and gauze. The X-ray sheets acts as a metaphor for the record of loss, it’s measure and diagnosis, and gauze as a gesture towards the complicated process of healing. They also suggest an older time, when such losses could be made concrete: now, most x-rays are digitally rendered. At the same time, the malleability and fragility of the sheets denies the kind of certainty that they might otherwise suggest. I exhibited four small watercolors related to the theme, the first work done on it, at the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver in 2013. In developing the work further, I hope to also engage in workshops like the one I did with UBC in 2012 called Think/Create, in response to the violence against Sikhs in Wisconsin; I will do some of this work during the academic year 2015-6 as part of my ongoing affiliation as a Research Associate at the Centre for India and South Asia Research. I will bring the voices I encounter into the body of work through small video sketches and conceptual drawings and mappings.