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My curatorial collaborations with the Indian-born, Melbourne-based contemporary photographer Anu Kumar in the Charkha and Kargha exhibition advanced in two different but connected directions. In the first project, we loaned four major photographs from the artist. This series of untitled photographs was from the Ghar (meaning home) project created by the artist in her birth town in India between 2017 and 2019. We selected these four photographs for inclusion in the exhibition because through them visitors could observe the daily usage of Indian textiles among contemporary local societies within India.

The second part of Anu Kumar’s collaboration with the exhibition was the Libbas (2022) photographic project commission based on daily life of Indian communities today in the states of Victoria and New South Wales. Here, during three months the artist has observed with the lens of her camera different aspects of traditional Indian households and families.

This commissioned project included sixteen photographs which were beautifully installed in the exhibition beside Sangeeta Sandrasegar’s installation. Here, again based on my curatorial strategies, I created a visual dialogue between the artworks of both contemporary artists and also the rest of the exhibition materials. Eight photographs of the Libbas project were also acquired (2023) by the Powerhouse for the newly created Powerhouse Photography collection.

Anu Kumar: My project Ghar — meaning home— is the culmination of over five years making images in my birthplace of Kavi Nagar, India, following my return at 21 years old. I began taking the photos as an exercise in learning how to be Indian. It was a visual articulation of my curiosity, responding to my surroundings whilst hovering around my family as they moved through the day. Ghar mapped my growing comfort and paved the way for a deeper connection with my family, while producing a visual record preserving intergenerational gestures and familial rituals that often live within the in-between moments and go undocumented. This project speaks of the universal craving of familial closeness. I hope it strikes a chord with viewers, and acts as a catalyst for others to engage in exploration and connection with their own families and motherlands in a post-lockdown world.

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