left image: portrait of Nasreen Mohamedi, unknown photographer, c.1970
right image: portrait of Sherry Wiggins, photograph by Robert Kittila, 2014
I had this picture taken of me as part of my process of “getting in the mood” for my project “Nasreen and I in Delhi.” I have been developing my relationship with Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) and her work through a specific practice where I employ the actions of empathy and intersubjectivity as well as extensive research and contemplation. In this image I am trying to manifest Nasreen (with lots of black hairspray.) I pursue this form of empathic and embodied practice in order to break down the boundaries between myself and the subjects that I (re)present.
In this project my intent is, not to copy Nasreen’s drawings and photographs, but to explore Delhi and India with Nasreen as my guide in experience and spirit. I will traverse and photograph some of the places and subjects that Nasreen interacted with. I will use the photographs that I take in and around Delhi as a ground and matrix from which to expand my own spatial territories and perspectives on the self in drawings. I will try to collapse the corporal boundaries between her body/mind and mine, as I create images and construct drawings with the aid of her (absent) eyes, ears, hands and mind. My drawings, photographs, and writings will trace the convergences and divergences of Nasreen and I in our art making practices as “we” walk, look, contemplate, and photograph sites/sights around Delhi. I will delve into our interior revelations as “we” meditate upon these “shared” experiences in “our” drawing practice.
There is a definite element of cultural voyeurism in my work as well as in my attempt to channel Nasreen Mohamedi. While studying Nasreen’s life and practice and while walking through her territory I am also learning much about 20th century Indian art, as well as learning more about Delhi and India in general. I am a little nervous and excited about traveling to India with these lofty goals. I leave for Delhi in less than a week.