Sonal Kantaria


For our commissioning project Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Sonal Kantaria considers what 'home' might mean during a global pandemic and how it relates to her cultural heritage.

ABOUT THE commissioN

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.

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City, Country, City

Lola Young weaves together ideas and memories of 'home' in her personal response to Sonal Kantaria's new artist commission.

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On Care, Memory and Place: In Conversation with Sonal Kantaria

Artist Sonal Kantaria speaks with Autograph's director Mark Sealy about notions of home, family and heritage – central themes in her new commission Ghar.

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about the artist

Sonal Kantaria

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.

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part of the project

Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other

Initiated during the first months of lockdown in 2020, Autograph commissioned ten UK-based creative practitioners to create new work in response to the wider contexts of the Covid-19 crisis.

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Images, from top. Works from Sonal Kantaria's commission Ghar, 2020, © and courtesy the artist, commissioned by Autograph for Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other: 1) Varda [detail], 2020. 2) Ghar I, 2020. Film; 1 minute 16 seconds. 2) Ghar II, 2020. Film; 1 minute 8 seconds. 3) Ghar III, 2020. Film; 2 minutes 42 seconds.

Photographs, each 42 x 29.7cm, Hahnemühle rag paper: 4) Varda, 2020, 5) Dharti, 2020. 6) Vandal, 2020. 7) Garud, 2020. 8) Chaand, 2020. 9) Jaar, 2020. 10) Akash, 2020. 

Artist: 11) Courtesy Sonal Kantaria. Part of the project: 12) 
Aida Silvestri, A Great Leveller [detail], 2020. From the commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line. © and courtesy the artist.

Discover more: 13) Exhibition at Autograph. Photograph by Zoë Maxwell. 14) Cover of Autograph's new anthology Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other. 15) Aida Silvestri, Tea [detail], from the commission Contagion: Colour on the Front Line, 2020. © and courtesy the artist. 16) Work from Poulomi Desai's commission Our cultures are the portals - the gateways between one world and the next [detail], 2020. © and courtesy the artist.