For Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other, Sonal Kantaria is looking closely at her family heritage, identity and impact of her immediate environment. What can ‘home’ mean in the face of a global pandemic? Find out more about the work and her interests.
Sonal Kantaria, from the series Indian Elderly Care Homes
Sonal Kantaria (lives and works in London) is a British-Indian visual artist whose practice explores themes of movement, settlement, representation and cultural identity. Inspired by her family’s migration from India and Kenya – both former colonies – to Britain, her interdisciplinary research-led practice traverses history, trauma and memory, investigating different forms of resistance through photography, video and text.
In works such as in her collaborative film work After the Crows Flies (2016), Kantaria explores the ongoing aftermaths and effect of colonisation on Aboriginal populations in Western Australia which led to devastating impacts on the land, culture and psyche of indigenous nations. In 2014, Autograph published our newspaper Who Cares…, powerfully probing the intersections of isolation, age, and migration. It featured a portfolio of Kantaria’s photographs portraying residents at an Indian care home in Leicester, UK. The series considered the societal shift of how we care for our elderly matriarchal figures and the way in which traditional values have changed in a growing British society. Other previous works have focused on the protection of women’s rights and gender-based violence, such as Naseeb: Trafficked (2010), a series of polaroid portraits, triptychs and a short documentary of young Indian and Bangladeshi women caught in a web of human trafficking and prostitution.
For this new artist commission, Kantaria will respond to the idea of Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other by re-examining the concept of ‘home’. By confronting her sense of entanglement with the changing landscape around her due to the impact of Covid-19. Kantaria will look not only at the geographic positioning of place but delve into the physiological and spiritual state anchored in her heritage and culture. This new work will combine still and moving image.
We'll update this page as the commission progresses, join our mailing list for updates. In the meantime, read an introduction to the Care | Contagion | Community project by Autograph's Senior Curator Renée Mussai.
Sonal Kantaria, Asha from the series Naseeb: Trafficked, 2010
Sonal Kantaria, After the Crows Flies, 2006
Sonal Kantaria is currently undertaking her PhD in Film Studies at Kings College, London. Her work has been exhibited across the UK and internationally such at the Magenta Foundation, Finkelstein Gallery, Fremantle Arts Centre, KL Photo Awards, Delhi Photo Festival, Perth Centre for Photography) including at the Ikon Gallery, UK and Whitechapel Gallery, London. Her film After The Crows Flies was selected from the BAFTA-recognised Aesthetica Film Festival in 2016, and Yeerdah was screened at the London International Short Film Festival in 2019. 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.
Autograph has commissioned ten artists to create new work responding to the wider context of the Covid-19 crisis. Initiated during the first month of lockdown, Autograph’s curatorial team Mark Sealy, Renée Mussai and Bindi Vora have been in close dialogue with a constituency of creative practitioners in our immediate artistic community. For the first phase, we have invited UK-based artists working with photography, film and lens-based media to create a new small-scale, open-ended visual arts project. The second phase will encompass ten new writing commissions, where each writer – paired with one of the artists – will be tasked to produce a short essay contextualising these newly commissioned works.
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Banner image: Sonal Kantaria, Sigrid from the series Traces [detail], 2013.
Pages images, from top: 1) Sonal Kantaria, from the series Indian Elderly Care Homes. 2) Sonal Kantaria, Asha from the series Naseeb: Trafficked, 2010. 3) Sonal Kantaria, After the Crows Flies, 2006. All images courtesy of and © Sonal Kantaria.