ARTIST STATEMENT

My work aspires to articulate languages of decoloniality through inter-textual and inter-textural artistic practices.

My life’s work emerges from a concern for justice and an imperative to heal from colonial pasts. I reimagine and reformulate languages of the self in order to offer “a countermemory, for the future” (Gordon). I explore ancestral loss— as the loss of bodies, histories, cultures, languages, genders, knowledge systems and spiritual practices— in order to rewrite the marginalized and silenced voice in contemporary contexts of global imperialism. I draw from the past to interrupt the present, and offer possibilities of being for future, as a “reacquisition of power to create one’s own i-mage” (Philip).

The “i” in my work is multiple: it is an i that is descendant of Slaves and Indentured labour, it is an i that grew up on the plantation island of Mauritius, it is an i that is economically working-class but culturally middle-class, it is an i filled with queer desires, it is an i that crosses normative gender lines, it is an i that grew up in a half-Catholic and half-Hindu family, it is an i that is East-African, South-Asian and in the process of becoming Canadian… The i in my work refuses to be restricted by singularity, it cannot be: my voice is multiple, moving beyond and across definitions, a voice imbued in “complex personhood” (Gordon).

The i in my work, then, is not constrained by the boundaries of disciplinarity. I work across live performance, poetry, installations, textile and visual arts to speak multiple aesthetic and political voices that enunciate a decolonial poetics. The voice in the body of my work expresses itself across different media and in the interstices between these media. These intermedia spaces provide the terrain for elaborating “strategies of selfhood— singular and communal— that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation” (Bhabha). Through an inter-disciplinary practice, I create a range of ‘in-between’ spaces and ‘in-between’ voices which offer a kaleidoscopic view of my subjectivities as they relate to space, time, history, and kinship: “this interstitial passage between fixed identifications opens up the possibility of a cultural hybridity that entertains difference without an assumed or imposed hierarchy” (Bhabha). I thus re-figure my own corporality as multiple, transgressing genres, locations, bodies, tongues, spaces and temporalities.

It is in inter-media practice, and across multi-year, archival and community-engaged research that I develop the core of my practice. My practice emerges from personal stories, family histories, auto-ethnography, grassroots collective knowledge, archival research, community-based research and critical theory. My work is process-oriented, guided first and foremost by the research process and the research material: I delve into the stories and narratives, the ones that are readily accessible just as much as the ones which are footnotes in the margins of history. As I start articulating the research material in a theoretical and aesthetic framework, I let the research material shape itself into the cultural forms and artefacts it wants to become, be it visual, textual, textile or performative. I thus never set out with a finished product or a completed piece of work in mind— it is from the process, from the ‘in-between’ space that my work emerges.

critical texts:

Bhabha, Homi, The Location of Culture, Routledge (1994, 2006)

Derrida, Jacques, Specters of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning and the New International, Routledge (1994, 2006)

Gordon, Avery, Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, University of Minnesota Press (1997, 2008)

Philip, M. NourbeSe, She Tries Her Tongue: her silence softly breaks, Ragweed (1989, 1996)