Darshan: Artist Statement
Darshan is a series consisting of photographically recreated, classical images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses that are pivotal to mythological stories in Hinduism. Most commonly used in the context of Hindu worship, Darshan is a sanskrit word that means “apparition” or a “glimpse.”. Lead by the experiential nature of a Darshan, this series explores the delicate relationship between photography and representation. (continued below)
Having left a ritual-driven community in India, my move to the U.S. precipitated an enormous cultural shift. It was this cultural paralysis that motivated me to use my one medium of worship–the camera–to study, construct and deconstruct the mythologies of my land. The goal was to turn multidimensional memories of sculptures and ornamental paintings of Hindu Gods, into two-dimensional photographs. For centuries, the way that we have experienced darshans (metaphysical connection established upon sight) is via laying gaze upon a molded figure, a carved statue or an illustration that represents a likeness to avatars described in Hindu scripture. This series of images invites the viewer to consider a photograph as means of spiritual engagement.
To make the imagery for the series, exhaustive research on each character lead to the assemblage of a diorama, by a team of approximately thirty-five Indian craftsmen who created props, sets, prosthetics, make-up, costumes, and jewelry to exacting specifications. Printed on a massive scale, these photographs are presented in an elaborate installation that resembles the experience of a Hindu temple... complete with incense, lamps, and invocation.
By bridging the gap between the significant ceremonies of my parents lives and my own mythology, this series has become my reason to immerse, question and push the boundaries of my faith, not only beyond my imagination, but beyond the very frame that surrounds the photograph.