Issue 33: Power
Part travelogue, shot from the back of a moving vehicle. Part lesson in Taxi Bhaat (speak), this project is about examining my recent move to Mumbai. Please take this with a grain of salt, it is both real and made up.
It’s a strange situation I am in, I have money relative to others, and this wealth means I can move through the city in ways others can’t… one where I am both visible and invisible, I am both powerful and powerless. I can’t really speak the language, only fragments but I can understand it. I can hide in plain sight, I can pretend. I look like everyone around me, but I was born in Fiji.
I circle this city looking for a home, a studio, friends… I circle this city fully aware that I should be taking public transport…
That I have the option to be isolated against the city… I catch endless taxis in a bid to understand and define myself as I get to know this place. I am not sure who holds the power here in these rides, me with the money, or the cab driver with the knowledge of how to get to the places I need to go. I keep circling…
My name is Shivanjani Lal and I am an emerging Pacific artist and curator, I was born in Fiji, I am culturally Indian, and I grew up in Western Sydney. My practice has always questioned where I fit through my thematic examination of the body, gesture and home. I work with storytelling, photography and sculpture to create exhibitions, installations and video based artworks which generate an active and empathetic response from the audience towards the quiet and untold stories of the “other”.
Often works are created from my own personal history as well as through research. My works are healing spaces which are activated either by myself or by the audience. This means that the work is not finished until the audience has engaged with it either through intervention or through activation. These encounters are not en masse rather they are small shared experiences that evoke ritual and contemplation through non threatening acts of participation within spaces.
The foundation of my Artistic practice is politics, which frames the works I make around a thorough understanding of current political systems through the specific geopolitical lens of the North/South social and economic divide and the consequences of these policies onto minority communities.
Within my artistic practice, my focus is how the consequences of these political systems can be healed through art, both within and outside of arts institutes. The outcomes of my research are installations, videos and performances that engage audiences in rituals that give space for healing. For me it is important that my practice is grounded in a community centred practice, as these are the stories of the people I want to see in gallery and museum spaces.
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