An incomplete inventory of Objects of Mourning - Priya Suresh Kambli

Priya Suresh Kambli

Project Space, 2024

Artist Statement

In my work, I have always striven to understand the formation and erasure of identity that is an inevitable part of the migrant experience, exploring the fragmentation of family, identity and culture. At age 18, I moved from India to the United States. Before I emigrated, my sister and I split our photographic inheritance along with other family heirlooms arbitrarily and irreparably in half – one part to remain in India with her and the other to be displaced with me, here in America. For the past two decades this accidental archive of family photographs and artifacts has been one of my main source materials in creating bodies of work which explore the issues of gender, identity, representation, migrant narratives and the role of photography as a medium in itself. In my works I re-photograph my inherited family photographs, documents and objects carried by me to America, to my home in the Midwest.

While at Headlands

My aim for Headlands is to expand upon the body of work, tilted Devhara which engages with how artists of color can disrupt, defy, and transgress the traditional and outdated notions that have defined their roles as image makers. This body of work is titled Devhara (which loosely translates to “house of idols” in my native language of Marathi). It is a multi-disciplinary body of work that weaves together three generations of women: my mother, my daughter, and myself. And it grapples with how my work can or should reflect my migrant identity. I investigate these topics through my mother’s objects of worship, which are imbued with political realities and tangible memories and which to me have become objects of mourning. I explore the resonance of these items from my mother’s home altar as significant forms while inserting our bodies (my daughter’s and mine) to create abstract images/meditations/visual prayers.