Lacuna + Seated Woman
Lacuna explores the position of the museum in relation to the histories (both personal and political) that it encounters through the act of collection.
The series of photo collages utilize the space of the Alsdorf Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago. With an overwhelming focus on figurative sculpture, the objects housed in the space are displaced bodies, bodies that carry the history of colonialism and the scars of violence and exploitation. They simultaneously symbolize the idealized body of the divine, thousands of years of South Asian culture, and the violence perpetrated on that culture that facilitated their removal. Through my South Asian heritage my body also carries these histories and these memories. I use my body as a divining rod to locate strategies of intervention—to alter the viewer’s relationship to the space, to incite moments of contemplation in the space between objects, in their relation to one another, and to the body.
In the postcard series, I created a ritual of visiting the galleries during my lunch break and creating short sketches of the objects, a performance of ethnography, noting their new relationship to space in the museum setting. The postcards included text that highlighted metaphorical connections between the objects and my personal family history of displacement. They were then presented alongside a pencil drawing of the map of the Art Institute of Chicago buildings.
The project culminated in Seated Woman, a performance at the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia. In this 7.5 hour durational performance I embodied "Aaji" - an amalgam of ancestors and art objects, a breathing specter of the past.