Gauri Gill’s Photo-Series Delves Deep Into The Realms of Communal Identity

Gauri Gill’s Photo-Series Delves Deep Into The Realms of Communal Identity

Artist Gauri Gill has been revered for her poignant visual commentary on minority communities in the last couple of decades. Gill who has traveled and worked extensively across rural India displays a deep understanding of local communities and their quest for representation. Her latest photo-series is an ongoing exploration of an Adivasi community of mask-makers located in the interiors of Maharashtra.

Image credit: Cobo Social

The photo project which is titled, ‘Acts of Appearance’ commenced in early 2015 when Gauri traveled extensively across Maharashtra. This is when she discovered the ritualistic Bahora masks which were created generationally by an Adivasi community.

The vibrant face masks which are created out of paper mache are worn once a year by the people of the village to depict and celebrate the several archetypes that the character in most of the folklore follow.

Image credit: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

In an attempt to blur the lines between tangible reality and the fantasy, Gauri captured portraits of local people donning these masks in the midst of their routine activities.

A man wearing a large cobra mask is seen tending to his convenience store, a woman wearing a tiger mask is working her way through the sieve in the verandah of her house, a couple sits on a bench wearing an alien and a goat mask etc..

Image credit:Cobo Social

The photographs that have emerged over the years is a visual study into the lives of this particular community and the identity that they have carried on for generations. There is a powerful story in the stance, the setting and in the characters that Gill has represented in her portraits.

The photo series which is a work in progress was at display at the Kochi Biennale 2018, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and more.

You can learn more about Gauri’s work here.

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