Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad

b. 1970 New Delhi, India; b.1975 India                                                                                          
Reside in New Delhi & Ganjad, India

In Fields of Sight, Gauri Gill collaborates with renowned Warli artist Rajesh Vangad to present this recent—and ongoing—body of work. The series began in early 2013 in Ganjad, Dahanu, an Adivasi village in coastal Maharashtra. A new visual language emerged symbiotically from Gill’s initial experiences of photographing the landscape. Looking at her contact sheets, she perceived that although the camera was capturing the distinct ‘chamelon-like’ skin of the landscape, it was missing vital aspects of what was not apparent to the eye, yet was vividly relayed in the great stories narrated to her by Vangad. The photographs by Gill, inscribed by drawings by Vangad, reconfigure the photographic site both formally as well as conceptually, to arrive at new documents of multiple truths and knowledge systems.In the act of viewing the landscape through the eyes of Vangad, Gill rekindles the need to challenge the way we see things today, what our eyes capture and what may elude them. ‘As though one were photographing an old home, and the resident of the house came out, and began to speak’.

“We see here a photographer of and from contemporary, urban India (though of a land-centered community herself), and an artist/painter of the Adivasi community from Maharashtra, whose visual narratives work together to tell stories that demand to be heard as equally contemporary, and not as relics of a traditional, or “tribal” past, a term that the British as well as independent India have called Vangad’s communities. He is not a ‘lost” figure of what Renato Rosaldo called “imperial nostalgia,” asking us to mourn what we ourselves have destroyed. He is not destroyed, but there, producing a language and art practice that uses the modern medium – the photograph, the motorcycle – to assert presence rather than provide the possibility of mechanical replication of that which is lost. Gill’s own photographic practice of collaboration and presence (see her work 1984, for instance) uses the photograph as a memory practice that asserts that the moment of photographic capture can prevent closure of stories of violence and suffering. Her characters challenge us to remember that their stories are not over, much remains to be done, whether it is redress, reparation, or in this case, recognition that identities of those deemed to be un-modern remain to challenge the politics of the neo-liberal state that denies that minority communities have a stake in the country’s future.”

Excerpted from Inderpal Grewal’s essay: Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad, Fields of Sight, 2014.