Mohini Chandra's work deals with articulations of identity and globalised spaces, and the role of the photographic in relation to memory and migration. Her research-led practice is fuelled by a sustained interest in photographic histories and the processes of visual culture within colonial, anthropological and ethnographic discourses.
In spring 2020 Autograph commissioned Chandra to create a new artwork in response to the wider context of the Covid-19 pandemic for our project Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. In Belated (2020), language, dance and cultural traditions are woven together in a poetic short film – inspired by the silenced bells of Chandra's local church in the historic rural market town of Totnes in the South West of England.
During her daily walks along the River Dart, Chandra experienced an intensified appreciation of nature and began to look into local histories which led her to nearby Dartington Hall, an estate that once welcomed the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore during the early 20th century. Replacing the church bells – fallen silent under lockdown – with the recorded chime of ankle bells performed remotely by a classical Indian dancer, Chandra emphasises the connection between her immediate surroundings and her wider cultural heritage.
“If you wish to fill your pitcher, then come, oh come, to the stream of my heart…”
— from 'Hriday Yamuna / The Heart’s Yamuna', a poem by Rabindranath Tagore (1892). Translated by Ananda Lal and Sukanta Chaudhuri.
To contextualise Chandra’s new artist commission, Autograph invited curator Sushma Jansari to write a short essay reflecting on the poetics of Belated and how this time of change may impact on our past, present and future. This text is published alongside an in-depth conversation between the artist and Autograph's curatorial project manager Bindi Vora.
I let the pitcher drift away
Read Dr Sushma Jansari's response to Belated
When Everything Fell Silent: In Conversation with Mohini Chandra
Autograph's curatorial project manager Bindi Vora in conversation with the artist
Mohini Chandra's (born 1964, UK) work deals with articulations of identity and globalised spaces, and the role of the photographic in relation to memory and migration. Her research-led practice is fuelled by a sustained interest in photographic histories and the processes of visual culture within colonial, anthropological and ethnographic discourses.
As a child, Chandra travelled widely with her family within the Indian-Fijian diaspora, and her deep engagement with ancestral histories is evident in projects such as album pacifica (commissioned and published by Autograph in 2001). Her ongoing project Paradise Lost explores significant global sites of collective and personal memory, emphasising the experience of colonialism and its aftermath.
Chandra’s works have been exhibited globally including at Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool; Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; Photo Kathmandu, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; Queens Museum of Art, New York; the First Johannesburg Biennale (1995); Focus Festival of Photography in Mumbai (2017); the Third Oceanic Performance Biennale in Auckland (2017) and Houston FotoFest Biennial (2018). Her works are held in the Arts Council Collection, UK. You can see more of Chandra's work on her website.
You can see more of Chandra's work on her website.
Initiated during the first months of lockdown in 2020, Autograph has commissioned a constituency of ten UK-based creative practitioners in our immediate artistic community to create an open-ended visual arts project in response to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Working with photography, film and lens-based media, Autograph’s curatorial team Mark Sealy, Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora have been in close dialogue with each artist to produce these new bodies of work. The artist commissions reflect Autograph’s long-standing work advocating for photography and film to address visual politics of rights, race and representation.
Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other will be presented as a group exhibition at Autograph's gallery in Shoreditch, London, from autumn 2021.
Read our senior curator Renée Mussai's introduction to the Care | Contagion | Community project
View the completed artist commissions
Visit the Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other exhibition at Autograph
Purchase a copy of the Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other book from Autograph's online shop
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Belated film credits
Artist / Producer / Director: Mohini Chandra
Totnes Camera / Editing: Beccy Strong
Totnes Reading: Moushumi Bhowmik
Kolkata Dancing (via Zoom): Lalita Lakshmi (Brisbane)
With many thanks to St Mary’s Church, Totnes
Image captions: Works from Mohini Chandra's commission Belated, 2020, © and courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 1) Film still [detail] from: Belated, 2020. 2) Mohini Chandra, Belated, 2020. 2) Belated, 2020. Film 12 minutes 49 seconds.
Other page images: 3) Courtesy of the artist.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list