Bridging Division at the light factory: Empathy and humanity
Exhibition dates: June 7 – August 3, 2018
Bridging Division: Empathy and Humanity will explore contemporary divisions through the personal interpretations of five photographers: Priya Kambli, Rania Matar, Zora J. Murff, Melissa Kreider, and Lissa Rivera. Curated by Ashley Kauschinger, artist and Founding Editor of Light Leaked.
View more details about the exhibition on The Light Factory here.
View Light Leaked's feature containing words from each artist as well as installation shots here.
Ashley Kauschinger: Summarize your work included in the exhibition, Bridging Division, at The Light Factory:
Priya Kambli: My creative practice has always been informed by the loss of my parents and my emigration from India to the States. At age 18, I carried my entire life in one suitcase, which included my photographic inheritance - an archive of family photographs and other artifacts. These objects have been my primary resource for creating bodies of work exploring the migrant experience through a personal lens.
AK: What do you want others to know about your work?
PK: I want the viewer to understand that in my artwork, I investigate my own migration and the challenges of cross-cultural understanding – using the lens of memory to provide a personal perspective on the fragmentation of family, identity, and culture that are part of the migrant experience. I deploy memories not simply of the migrant experience, but of the human experience; stories from growing up that have the potential to reveal our essential similarities. Memories of small, seemingly trivial events - but speaking of intimacy, touch, and vulnerability - are at the emotional core of all of us. Prompting reflection about those memories is a powerful means of forging connections between people and communities.
AK: What do you think the role of art and photography is playing in contemporary society?
PK: This to me is a big question. I will answer this question in context of the role of art and photography in my artwork. My project has a civic and social impact on pressing issues. I believe people from diverse communities can empathize with the migrant experience, combatting the impulse to shut out outsiders and think of humanity as divided between “us” and “them”. By sharing our stories, we can appreciate our differences but also realize that our common humanity and stories tie us together.
Creating for the future what our forebears made for us gives this work additional artistic significance. I treasure my archives of family photographs and intend to create artwork that will compel future viewers to hold, examine, and cherish it.
AK: How do you view your work interacting with that role?
PK: Photography allows me to delve deeper into my own immigrant narrative, engaging with its personal but increasingly, if accidentally, political context. It allows me to respond to the recent heightening of anti-immigrant rhetoric in our contemporary society which has altered the context in which migrant voices like mine are heard. In this altered reality, the meaning of our personal stories has become increasingly political. While my need to decipher my family photographs is personal, my work has always touched upon universal themes, with the potential to start a dialogue about cultural differences and universal similarities.
AK: What do you feel your work contributes to an exhibition about bridging division?
PK: I think my artwork has been chosen because as the name of the show suggests this is pivotal moment for the fabric of our society. As significant forces try to dismiss the concerns of those who are perceived as different, the need to present a variety of perspectives is simply more urgent.
Also, creatively interpreting and publicly resolving issues related to migration and the challenges of cross-cultural understanding is an innate part of my professional work.
AK: When viewers walk into this exhibition or view it online, what questions do you hope they ask themselves about the work? (we will post these questions in the space)
PK: I don’t have specific questions, but I want them –
- To consider the migrant narrative- how the work provides a much-needed personal perspective on the fragmentation of family, identity, and culture often experienced in diasporic communities?
- To consider the heightening of anti-immigrant rhetoric and what that means for our society as large and its consequences?
View more of Priya Kambli's work here.