OFFICIALLY IDENTIFIED

 

WEEK 02             

THE CONTENTS OF MERIT

ARTIST STREET STORE DOLLS

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: Typed English poem in black font against a white background. Transcript is provided to the right of the image.

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Education can be a form of alienation, and one’s claims to authorship are engulfed in the scepticism arising from the social categories in which we are embedded. 

 

WEEK 04             

TREASURE CHEST

ARTIST LAVENDER  HIPPO

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image has a passport size photograph of a woman with the eyes scratched out with a pen. There is a yellow and green ribbon and two origami ducks, one big and brown and another small and yellow. 

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Our own perception is necessarily scribbled out by the pens of official identification. And what is the difference between a ribbon of achievement and a pair of paper birds unless we choose to attribute differing values to them?

 

WEEK 05              

BLACKJACK WITH LABELS

ARTIST LOKI

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image shows a person’s hand holding a number of cards with different pictures on them. The first card shows two pictures. One is of a woman with an orange top and purple hair with a circle of flowers round her head and the second one is a black and white picture of a woman kneeling down with a flower in the place of her head. The pictures and the text on the rest of the cards are not clear. 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image shows all 16 cards laid out. The description of each card is available in the dropdown to the right.

 

DESCRIPTION: The image shows all the 16 cards laid down and with 1st, 4th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 14th and 15th cards turned over. 

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Labels can sometimes be essentializing, but can we also think of labels as giving us a trajectory, an escape to move beyond the officiality that risks erasing our personhood? Can these labels possibly help us see that we are more than what we are marked out to be?

 

WEEK 05            

COUNTING PRIVILEGES

ARTIST STREET STORE DOLLS

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS LETTER

00:00 / 00:56

 

DESCRIPTION: Typed English poem - “Counting Privileges” - in black font against a white background.  Transcript and recording of the poem is provided to the right of the image.

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The neat patterns of our identity cards are a striking contrast to the messy matrices through which the emotional bonds around our identities are formed. 

 

WEEK 06            

EYES SPEAK

ARTIST LOKI

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS SONG

00:00 / 03:10

 

DESCRIPTION: The image shows an eye with a green cornea and a QR code in the centre of it. 

From the artist’s note:

“What did the dolphin say to the baby? What did the sofa say to the bottle of water? What did the video camera say to the NAC Mac? What did the mirror say to the underwear? What did the eyes say to the world?

Many a time, what we see is so much more than what it appears and most of the time we take it for whatever we just see or whatever we want to see. The eyes play an important role in helping form opinions, judgments and intuition. What would it be to embody the eyes that help us enter the world and make sense of it? What would they say? Would they say anything at all?”

 

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The eyes have been accorded the privileged position of being gateways to the world and to determine the positions of various categories of people in our lives. And yet, what of the perspective of the eyes? 

 

WEEK 06             

NO LONGER DRIFTING

ARTIST STREET STORE DOLLS

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS LETTER

00:00 / 02:03

 

DESCRIPTION: Typed English poem - “No longer drifting” - in black font against a white background.  Transcript and recording of the poem is provided to the right of the image.

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Our attempts to anchor our identities and our place in the world...official forms of pinning down selfhood can provide scripts for us to be seen and to see ourselves but they come at a price.

 

WEEK 07             

THE ROOTS THAT HOLD US

ARTIST LOKI

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image shows the face of a woman with a bindi and her hair tied into a bun. She does not have any facial feature such as eyes, nose or mouth. In the background are images of networks of branches.

 

DESCRIPTION: The image is of a sari that is tightly folded and tied with a rope.

 

From the artist’s note:

“What is in the name?

I wonder why we carry the names of our fathers as our last name when it is the women who actually hold our families together?
They ensure heirlooms are passed on, recipes are practiced and customs are followed, even for and on behalf of the male members of their family.
They are the seeds and also the roots that hold us together in the common ground called family.
Why are they fine with the men being the face of their love and effort?
Why doesn’t their own name shine in all the forms, addresses, applications, certificates, awards and announcements?

 

In memory of my paternal grandmother. If she were here, I would have a story for my last name, a different life and a lot more.”

 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image is a list of the following names written one below the other in sketch pen: Shridhar Sundaram Iyer, Subramaniam Chandrashekhar, MD Sunitha, Seher Noor Mehra, Suneeth Basavareddy Kasaaki, Pinky Omprakash Jain, Jaidrath Zaveri, Puneeth Rajkumar, Sumanth M Rao, Vinyana Rao, Saraswathi Anand, Raaga A Swaminathan. Next to the names, the following text is written spelling is new, Father’s name too long, can't afford to have sur/family name, Nuclear (arrow) just dad. And below the names, the following text is written : North Indian, Chopra or Gandhi, common, long not cool, not-big sounding, young name

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The “official” markers of our identities conceal the echelons of power in which we are embedded and decide which forms of procreation are more entitled to be remembered than others. 

 

WEEK 07             

A ROSE

ARTIST  LAVENDER  HIPPO

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS LETTER

00:00 / 01:40

 

DESCRIPTION: An image with a pink tinge of a handwritten note in black ink on a white background which is transcribed below. The recording is provided to the right of the image.

 

Excerpt from the artist’s note:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

My name was supposed to be something else. You see, they were expecting a son but unfortunately they had a daughter and they named her something. They could have named her anything and it would have meant the same thing. 

This girl grew up not caring for her name or surname. She grew up and started creating an identity for herself and she realised that her identity was now attached to her name whether she intended to or not.

She made something for herself – Something Very Important.

How can my name not be important when I feel such joy when it is uttered by my lover in a crowded room and suddenly I feel seen. When a dear friend describes me to someone – how can I not fall in love with my own name? The way a tongue twists and sounds come out in order for my name to be said the way it must – the way I like and prefer it. I am in love with myself. What’s in a name, you ask? Everything – in its own pockets of time.”

 

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The act of naming could itself be seen as one of the fundamental acts of curtailment of our potential and possibilities. Our names precede us and we have little claim over their infliction onto us. And yet, names invariably go through a process of reclamation until we make them a part of our own being that reflect who we are and who we wish to become.

 

WEEK 07            

THE SHADES OF OUR NAME

ARTIST Z

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS POEM

00:00 / 03:07

IMAGE SOURCE: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/484862. The image is in the public domain

DESCRIPTION: The image is of a painting titled - ‘Static-Dynamic Gradations, by Paul Klee,  1923’ - which  is a grid of coloured squares painted with watercolours. The squares in the centre of the painting are of bright vivid colours (brown, green, orange, white and blue) and the squares that border the centre are darker shades ( dark brown, grey and black). 

 

DESCRIPTION: The poem titled - The Shades of Ours Names’ - is written in black font against a white background and recording is provided to the right.

 

Excerpt from the artist’s note:

                                                                                                                             Week 7: See-Saw
                                                                                                                              2nd Nov

Dear Loki,

The prompt brought forth a lot of feelings that I have around my first and last names that reflect much larger social causes. I have tried to keep the writing personal and weave the story of my family and their names.

After I had done the prompt as an exercise, I kept thinking about a Paul Klee painting, called ‘Static Dynamic Gradation’ (1923), with little coloured squares clustered together, like how people with same/similar names cluster together. I wrote this poem with that painting in mind. Each little paragraph has been written as a square on its own (with its own  color/shade) but telling a story together. 

warm regards,
Z.”

 

 

LISTEN TO THIS LETTER

00:00 / 00:52

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The need for names to have meanings beyond merely locating us in the world…

 

WEEK 07             

RANDOM NAMES AT A RAILWAY STATION

ARTIST STREET STORE DOLLS

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: Typed English poem - “Random names at a railway station” - in black font against a white background.  Transcript of the poem is provided to the right of the image.

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The resistance to naming is a kind of resistance to the power of the state and a reverence to all those who have resisted before us.

 

WEEK O7             

PURE CHANCE

ARTIST MISFIT MEDUSA

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The video shows a small cup of water into which a person is diluting paints of different colours using a paintbrush. Finally, the entire coloured water is thrown into a toilet bowl  and we hear the sound of the toilet flush

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

We are the merges of many shades of histories, loves, strifes, hopes and unions that have preceded us...but what use are these assemblages to the passage of time, to the broader frames of reference that engender us. As harsh as it may seem, our beings and the lineages before us are of mere contingent significance. 

 

WEEK O9             

CARDS OF BELONGING

ARTIST GULLA

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: There is an image of the eye with a QR code across it and pieces of the QR code are disintegrating to reveal the eye. 

Excerpt from the artist's note:

"Dear partner, 

The use of identity cards to get through registration purposes has begun to scare me. Originally, I think they were meant to provide for us a sense of belonging. But I can’t help but feel in danger every time someone asks to link my Aadhar card, my passport, my driving license. I don’t know what they might do with that data…
Gulla,
11.11. 21

P.S. sending you two responses together cuz I couldn’t send the last week’s"

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Once the panels of the panoptic gaze are removed one by one, the imprisoned centre of seeing gradually begins to emerge. 

 

WEEK O9             

PROVE YOUR ...

ARTIST LAVENDER  HIPPO

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image comprises a sheet of paper, the top is painted blue and the bottom is pink. On the top of the paper is written ‘Prove your existence’. Below that, on the left, is written ‘Prove your Dalitness’ and on the right is written ‘Prove your Indianness’. Below that is written ‘Birth certificate?’, ‘Age’ and ‘Dalit certificate’. At the bottom of the page are three images in black of girls, one wearing a shirt and a pinafore, a second wearing a kurta and salwar with an identity card round her neck and a third of a woman with a shirt, pants and a handbag. Above the first image is written ‘Get all your certificates for your application for the Board exams’. Above the second is written ‘What makes you Indian? The literature? The architecture? The language?’ and above the third is written ‘What?’

 

LISTEN TO THIS LETTER

00:00 / 02:16

 

DESCRIPTION: Handwritten text in white ink against a black background. Transcript and recording is provided to the right of the image.

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

While all of us are objectified by official systems of identification, the processes of objectification and the weight of proving one’s worth to the state are not evenly distributed.

 

WEEK O9             

"I" OF COLOURS AND LINES

ARTIST MORTY SMITH

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image comprises multiple colours (blue, pink, green, purple) blending into each other and what look like black jellyfish with black tentacles reaching into the collage of colours. 

Excerpt from the artist's note:

“Dear Gulla, I want to say that I feel very uncomfortable with my identity. I always had difficulty in liking myself. When I say identity I mean all aspects that make me into who I am. There is always a longing for a “better me”. I feel angry/helpless/overwhelmed when I look at myself in the mirror for a long time. I have been consciously unlearning all the toxic conditioning of constant negative talk but there is a long way to go. Lot of times I feel that the things I hold on to as my identity doesn’t matter at all. I find it obscure. 

In the artistic response I expressed my thoughts and feelings around my “I”dentity through colours and lines.”

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The dots and grids that often make up official identities dissolve into the ocean of emotions and tensions that characterize lived identities. 

 

WEEK O9             

TEAR IT UP

ARTIST JEISI AMAWASA

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image is of a page that is folded three times to form five strips. There is a different sentence written on each strip as follows: I am not a number. I am blood and bone. I am last week’s movie night. And the grass that once met my toes. I am my father’s eyes, my mom maybe not. I am the way I folded this page.
 

Excerpt from the artist's note:

“Hello from “Jeisi”

[What’s in a name?]

I’m not really sure, but

[What’s in a number?]

Today it seems like possibly everything. A birth date, short of a birth time that could have led to an astral chart and even a kundli. But I digress. In this “age of data”, what are we? Facts? Figures? Emotional datapoints that tell Netflix what romcom we’ll stream next? 

Or are we so much more?

Find out what I think I am with the accordion poem to be kept a secret. If you work at Netflix, TEAR IT UP.

Love,
“Jeisi” “

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

The multiple layers of our identity and its bureaucratization that are essential to keep systems going...and the ways in which these systems interpellate our recognition to ensure their own survival…

 

WEEK O9             

काग़ज़ | KAAGHAZ | PAPER

ARTIST KHWABIDA

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS POEM

00:00 / 00:47

 

DESCRIPTION: Handwritten Hindustani poem in blue ink against a orange background. Pencil drawings of paper and an envelope on the right side. Transcript and recording is provided to the right of the image.

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Official documentation indicates the inadequacy of our existence, indicating the imperative placed on us to always have to prove who we really are.

 

WEEK O9             

I TO i

ARTIST MISFIT MEDUSA

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

DESCRIPTION: The image shows a cream paper burnt at the edges with dots and dashes in various colours ( blue, purple, pink, green and yellow) representing morse code. The following words are pasted at different places on the image: I made, I had, I would. I felt, I didn’t.

 

LISTEN TO THIS LETTER

00:00 / 00:58

Excerpt from the artist's note:

“Dear L, 

This week’s prompt was very humbling. We speak of being more than just labels or assumptions but to a bigger system, our identity will always be withheld down to numbers – bits and bytes, if you will.

My idea for this artistic response stems from how i felt as i lay down with all my identification papers pasted on me. It felt like a journey to travel from the I to the i. 

I hope to capture how irrelevant we are in the bigger scope of things, the colours we carry, in the end, are still just data waiting to be purged from memory – from life – a little depressing, I know. But I think it also stands as a testament to how much more we can be. Our problems are miniscule compared to this scale of deep time.”


                                                                                                        Love,
                                                                                                        Misfit Medusa”

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

It is ironic that the body, in all its thickness and messiness, is so fundamental to our existence and yet to ensure embodied security we have to succumb to being reduced to abstract symbolism in order to be seen by the state. 

 

WEEK O9             

PORTALS

ARTIST Z

ARTISTIC RESPONSE 

 

LISTEN TO THIS SONG

00:00 / 04:21

 

DESCRIPTION: Typed English lyrics - “Portal” - in black font against a white background.  Transcript and the song is to the right of the image.

Excerpt from the artist's note:



Week 9: See- Saw
20th Nov

Dear Loki, 


The prompt for week 9 brought up several mixed up and tangled feelings – gratitude, pride, belonging, fear, frustration, distrust. This piece is an attempt at expressing all of this.

warm regards,
Z “

SEE-SAW REFLECTIONS

Arbitrary and preassigned modes of belonging can be portals to ponderings on who they make us and who we would like to be. To make modes of belonging the objects of our reflection is sometimes the best that we can do to break out of their tendencies to assign and confine us to specific positions.