Inspired by her family's migration from India to Kenya – both former colonies – to Britain, Sonal Kantaria's interdisciplinary research-led practice is concerned with history, trauma and memory, investigating different forms of resistance through photography, video and text.
Autograph commissioned Kantaria to create new work in response to the wider context of the Covid-19 pandemic for our project Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. For this artist commission, Kantaria re-examines the concept of ‘home’, confronting her sense of entanglement with the changing landscape in her immediate surroundings. Through still and moving imagery Kantaria explores the poetics of space delving deep into physiological and spiritual states of being in relation to her cultural heritage.
To contextualise this new artist commission, we invited Lola Young to write a short reflective essay. Inspired by Kantaria’s visual imagery in Ghar (2020) , Young weaves together memories that traverse the city and countryside shaped by evocative cloudscapes and all they symbolise. This is published alongside an in-depth conversation between the artist and Autograph's director Mark Sealy.
Sonal Kantaria is a British-Indian visual artist whose work explores themes of movement, settlement, representation and cultural identity.
In works such as in her collaborative film work After the Crows Flies (2016), Kantaria explores the aftermath and ongoing effects of colonisation on indigenous populations in Western Australia. In 2014, Autograph published a portfolio of Kantaria's photographs portraying residents at an Indian care home in Leicester, UK in the publication Who Cares…, powerfully probing the intersections of isolation, age, and migration. Other previous works have focused on the protection of women’s rights and gender-based violence, such as Naseeb: Trafficked (2010), portraying young Indian and Bangladeshi women caught in a web of human trafficking and prostitution.
Kantaria is currently undertaking her PhD in Film Studies at Kings College, London. She has exhibited internationally at the Magenta Foundation, Delhi Photo Festival, Perth Centre for Photography, Ikon Gallery and Whitechapel Gallery. Her films were showcased in the BAFTA-recognised Aesthetica Film Festival and the London International Short Film Festival. Her works are held in collections including the Wesfarmers Art Collection, Australia and the UK Parliament Art Collection. She is represented by Finkelstein Gallery in Melbourne, Australia.
You can follow the artist on Instagram and see more of Kantaria'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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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