Creating narratives with the human body - A Photo Documentary
What started off as an experiment to paint on different medium as canvases, after years of painting on walls, fabric, paper, metal and wood, I wanted to paint on something that felt alive. Like wet clay with air passing through it, breathing and moving. From this came the exploration of painting on human bodies - A living, breathing canvas.
Our bodies are our biggest storytellers. Shapes, sizes, colour, scars, marks, burns, and more adorn our bodies with stories and memories.
With “Breathing Canvas”, I want to highlight the sensitivity that what is Personal is political.
This project is an exploration on women reclaiming their bodies and creating powerful narratives within shared spaces, through the simplicity and honesty of touch, silence, and breath; a wholly intimate and non-sexualized representation of the human body.
Through this process, I have spent time with everyday women - mothers, working women, actors, dancers, entrepreneurs, and domestic help with the intent of exploring their strengths and understanding their weaknesses through perceived flaws, desires, and beliefs - both superficial and internal.
We shared stories and experiences, creating a space of complete trust and understanding. Some spoke of only knowing their bodies as tools for love or giving pleasure, and others spoke of never having experienced this level of openness with themselves.
As I painted on these women, I moved into their personal space and became witness to them travelling through different emotions of tension, resistance, ease, acceptance, and then gradually surrendering to the present moment and to a celebration of themselves. The women in this project have all been willing to shed their egos and inhibitions and claim their bodies as their own, with complete pride, dignity, and composure.
The creation and documentation of each piece was a day long process, after which the paintings were washed off the body, at the end of the day. This process gave me the opportunity to accept the impermanence and fragility of each piece of work and in turn transcended my own experience with painting and practice as an artist.
The status of women in India and all over the world, has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. Our history has been so eventful! Women have held positions of power and made a difference in the arts, government, social change, the environment and in so many other fields. Despite all of this we are still struggling with basic human rights of equality, dignity, respect, basic safety and freedom from discrimination.
I believe that these changes can happen with a collective consciousness, a set of shared beliefs, ideas, and moral attitudes which operate as a unifying force within our society. This project, Breathing Canvas, has been such an empowering journey. I started out with just a basic desire to paint on human bodies and it slowly started to transform into something so much bigger than myself. It went beyond our individual processes and turned into a tapestry of our collective consciousness.