dear amma is an effort at meditating on the confusion, double life and imminent transformation felt in migrant journeys through objects that belonged to my mother. By utilizing the aesthetics of Carte de viste and removing Victorian figures in exchange for my mother’s image from her passport photograph, I use colonial visual language of identity for diasporic intervention. The work recognizes and problematizes the effects of assimilation and loss of culture within a migrant experience, centering the body as a fragmented and hybrid archive of dualities. Stamps that are nomadic in nature are made and cut by hand to further the notions of migration, global exchange and portability. The embroidery work on sarees that belonged to my mother, is a way of responding to intergenerational knowledge transmissions and translations. The presence of the hand in the labour-intensive process of hand embroidery implies how we may touch or not touch our mothers and grandmothers. I wanted to touch my mother’s sarees that once draped her body, repeatedly with a needle, and thread my stories with her’s.This yearning for the mother, the motherland, the mother tongue and eventual longing, loss and melancholia felt by diaspora are the overarching themes of this installation.
What does it mean to mother?
What does the mother in mother tongue mother?
What does the mother in motherland mother?
It began here
Your journey and mine
A warm place,
the place I return to.
It started here
Your language and mine
A twisted anchor of a tongue,
the mother tongue
the tongue I return to.
My mother, my first home
My world was decentered the day I left your body to become whole
As our bodies untouched, a new journey began
One where I move away from you,
One where I start to resemble you,
One where I search for what you gave me
Everywhere, in everyone
Mother, how I long to surrender my body to you as you did to me at my birth.
Mother, how I long to love you the way you have loved me.