Background (in Piya's words):
Two years ago I arrived in India searching for an identity in a country that has for years struggled with its own. From years of British colonization to a bloody independence and from a caste system to a supposedly secular state, India’s history has erupted into a multiplicity of overlapping and often discordant identities. From such a mosaic sparked within me a discovery of self. Is it what’s around me, or what is within me that dictates this “I?” In asking such questions, I place myself within a wider struggle -- an unveiling of history. As South Asians contemplate post-colonial constructions of selves and the Diaspora struggles with being in between, a new critical theory that explores the varied notions of being Indian unfolds. It is in this context that I present this work.
In approaching such a contemporary narrative, I have found the written word inadequate to fully communicate this subject’s depth and complexity. I have therefore turned to digital storytelling, a new form of creative expression that draws from oral and written traditions to combine image, sound and voiceover to mesh layers of narrative. It is a medium that easily speaks to the multiple perspectives and simultaneous existences of hyphenated identities.
I have pushed the limits of this form by blurring genres and incorporating various artistic mediums and brought the work together in an installation of six, 2-3 minute video poems that draw on visual art, dance, music and written text to explore cultural, spiritual, and emotional identity. In these multi-media pieces (no comma) I use the broader themes of memory, place, and art to speak to the various perspectives and simultaneous existences of self, their effects on each other and how they fit within a larger world.
My own discovery of self has been a lifelong journey. I come from a migrant family. My great grandfather moved from India to Rangoon during the British rule of Burma. When the Japanese invaded during World War II my grandfather returned to India on foot. As children, my parents moved throughout the subcontinent of India over ten times. My grandmother ran away from home for over three months and hid in a nunnery while my grandfather fought in the Korean War. In 1976 my father flew across the world and arrived in Brooklyn with eighty dollars and a medical degree. I have lived in the same place my entire life and have never belonged “home.”
I am not American. I am not Indian. I am not one kind of artist. I fear and I feed on this in-between: This in-between selves, this in-between genres, this in-between disciplines, this in-between mediums, and this in-between place that will never reach both seas.