Two Eyes

In the body of work Shubh Mangal Savdhan (a mantra that announces and cautions at the same time, the arrival of the auspicious wedding moment), I am re-contextualizing photographs from two different wedding albums -my parents’ and my maternal uncle’s - by obscuring and revealing information. The act of mining an archive of images has been central to my work throughout my career, focusing on the collection of family photographs brought with me to the United States when emigrating here at age 18 and other family photographs that I have recently inherited. The occlusion of the photograph is done using flour - the alterations I make to these photographs, the use of pattern in and on top of the object, have been described as a form of fenestration. Though they obscure the image, they create windows through which underlying structures are revealed.

The works in this series engage with the boundary between the pictorial space and the viewer’s space – both reinforcing it and suggesting its permeability. The application of flour to archival photographs and the creation of openings or peepholes in that layer of flour refers to the distinct temporal and geographic spaces occupied by the original photographer behind the lens, the subjects of those photographs in front of it, and my own position as viewer and collaborator on the far side of a divide spanning decades and hemispheres.

— Priya Kambli

Hand & Flowers
Eye, Earring and Flowers

© Priya Kambli, Shubh Mangal Savdhan. All pictures courtesy of the artist.

Priya Kambli received her BFA at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and an MFA from the University of Houston. She is currently Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

One of her most significant accomplishments was receiving the Book Award through PhotoLucida’s Critical Mass for her series Color Falls Down. This series marked her maturing as an artist and was conceived shortly after her first child, her son Kavi, was born. It inadvertently examines the question asked by Kavi at age three; did she belong to two different worlds, since she spoke two different languages? The essence of his question continues to be a driving force in her art making. Kambli’s artwork has been well received, having been exhibited, published, collected and reviewed in the national and international photographic community. The success of Kambli’s work underlines the fact that she is engaged in an important dialogue, and reinforces her intent to make work driven by a growing awareness of the importance of many voices from diverse perspectives and the political relevance of our private struggles.

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