(Kavi Nagar, India, 1990)
—Installation Biblioteca municipal de Rubí (Map)
The photographer Kumar Anu was born in the town of Kavi Nagar in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India, but when she was just 8 months old her family migrated to Melbourne, Australia. She returned to her hometown at the age of 21. “I remember a feeling of unease, of not knowing where I belonged or who I was in that context,” says the artist, “I started taking photos as an exercise in learning to be Indian”. A slow journey towards acceptance and understanding of her cultural heritage.
Ghar, the title of this work, means “home” in Hindi, and is a fitting name for this visual record of the photographer’s homecoming. Over five years, with her medium format camera, her delighted gaze wandered through the rooms and courtyards of the family home, and around the surrounding streets, tracing the hidden nature of her hometown and drawing a map of her personal and cultural heritage. The square portraits of her grandmother, aunts and uncles create a family album that illustrates the daily work and private scenes of family life. Kumar Anu explores the personal consequences of migration and diaspora, and photography helps her to understand her identity as a woman born in India and raised in Australia.
Her “decolonial” aesthetic is an eloquent response to Western photographic representation typical of magazines such as National Geographic: an India full of exoticism and vibrant, saturated colour.
Soft, muted colours, misty light infused with a little smog reveal to us her closest, most intimate world. The sadness of being and not being from a deeply loved place.