Grief Collection : for the Toronto Dance Community Love-In Summer Festival 2021
With pieces; ‘Home’ (not being made) ‘BLUE - tears from sky & sea’ (dyed pieces) ‘One Another’ (painted pieces)
The Jhandi flags come into this work from my own processes in solo work and present garment collaborations. I will share some context and their representation to why it felt important and interesting for me to use these flags in this collection.
Contextually, these flags are rooted in hindu practices from the Indian subcontinent, they were carried by indentured labourers to the west indies/caribbean and later to many parts of the formation of south asian diaspora around the world. Colourful cloth prayer flags attached to bamboo poles, planted outside homes after puja (aka ceremony) is performed. In Indo-Caribbean hindu households, they were markers in the neighbourhood, remnants of past ceremony, connection to south asian ancestry/heritage and to the history of indentureship of migrants to Guyana (and across the West Indies). These flags are representative of another year being in relationship to ‘new home’ of continued strength, resilience and empowerment from forced erasure. For me they signify reconnection, which also means a sense of healing, of ‘home’, from traumas of erasure, colonialism, white inferiority and supremacies. And in reclamation of a culture and practice that holds so much colour, joy, light and celebration!
The purpose of representing the flags in this work was for me was the empowerment of Indo-Guyanese/Indo-Caribbean identities, as a diaspora, in celebration through reclamation. The telling of these stories, again and now for remembrance, truth and knowledge sharing. For the Indo-Caribbean diaspora is present.
With much discomfort and labour, these flags were not used in pieces for this collection. With desire to share, offer and voice my whole self (identity, practices, history etc.), ethically under capitalist frameworks, pursuing all of me is not possible when orienting towards white led spaces. It is my own responsibility to make choices to not perpetuate harm as a person of colour, against myself and community from exploitative, tokenized, accessorizing of practices, objects, and identities. This acts as a reminder of how you choose to purchase BIPOC made products.
With supportive love and care, thank you Pegui
And Sketch Working Arts for continuously creating opportunities
‘BLUE - tears from sky & sea’
Dyeing (natural dye and bleach techniques)
My curiosity of natural dyeing and bleach extraction comes from a place a play and awe! It’s meditative in its one mindful task, the tactility of it feels so clearing and replenishing. I became intrigued by natural dyes and techniques of which I have begun to explore; shibori (traditional Japanese resist dyeing) and bandhani amongst many other forms (Lehariya or Mothra, Ekdali etc.) of Indian tye&dye binding. I love some of the aspects of ‘memory’ that are discussed in these practices. As the baths durationally allow the movement of fluids to find place and space in the bound fabrics, insisting on imprinting its memory of time. Those moments are made permanent. That the touch and temperament of each person is unique to the work. The effects of imprints and shapes represents individuality. There is a deep extensive history to these techniques, hundreds of techniques and practices specific and different to all regions in India, with history throughout Southeast Asia, China, Japan, West Africa, Peru, Mesoamerica, Mesopotamia, Iran, Egypt... I've only recently begun to explore through my own processes and what it holds for me. For now,
Artist Marina Stojkovic and myself, connected over intersecting themes in our work. As a visual artist she has offered her time to this process, where we began to explore and ask the question of ‘what is needed now?’, which resulted in discussions of inclusivity, holding, self care and collective care. This is what that looks like in this work with the words HOLDING ONE (ourselves first) ANOTHER (eachother). The vibrancy of colours are evocative of celebration, joy and reclamation of Caribbean and West Indie histories. The figures entangled, in this suspended time of grief, loss, activation and collective suffering. Can we find ways forward collectively, to care, listen, touch with greater understanding for each other. The work holds this time.