Daughters of Solstice
2014 - Present | Photography/Food/Community
‘Daughters of Solstice’, as a community based community/food/photography project, was born in Raglan, New Zealand. Over 3 months, I created 9 artisanal curry pastes for Whaingaroa Organic Commune, while studying the Drigpanchang calendar, 16 Nityas and their sadhanas for healing. I was seeking an engagement in the creation of a ‘taonga’ – (Maori) treasure, anything prized - applied to anything considered to be of value including socially or culturally valuable objects, resources, phenomenon, ideas and techniques.
The inspiration of this project came from a lost recipe of a particular masala indigenous to my home in Maharashtra. I come from an agricultural background, rooted in traditions particular to my small unclassified community of farmers. My background being in photography, I went to New Zealand to expand my practice beyond pixels and frames. Thus the layer cake exploratory project Daughters of Solstice.
As a result of my travels, one day I found myself fortunate to be integrated in the local community of Raglan. A perfect place to explore ancestral musings, specially those of my matriarchal lineage. With the medium of creating 9 artisanal curry pastes, inspired by the phases of the moon, I started sharing various aspects of hindu culture through this 'product' and its supplementary pamphlets at WOK Organic Community Grocery. In a quest to seek within me, traditional caches of what a modern Hindu female carries within herself, I attempted to download the lost recipe through spiritual exercises, cooking and community interaction.
This project was a performance in testing my true genetic inheritance and its knowledge in the context of the stereotype of an Indian woman in the kitchen (from a contemporary gaze) . Simultaneously I was downloading 'oral subjective' information about the divine, astrological and mythological aspects that tied into the ingredients in curry paste on the world wide web. Attempting to understand the algorithms of the soul, the Mother and the 'hindu' way of looking at the world, the web aided my research serving as a parallel collective consciousness, away from 'authentic' knowledge in my country, on the shores of the southern hemisphere. As well, I was passed down a lot of information by the local women which completed a circle for this spiritual art.
This project was a 3 months long food performance engaging the patient and inquisitive locals of Whaingaroa. Inspired by Maori beliefs, yet not fully delving into them, the project thrived as its oral form was well received in Aotearoa. The project ended in Raglan with a dynamic exchange of food stories in a wonderful workshop teaching the lost recipe, followed by a community meal.
Daughters of Solstice is a work in progress. Upon my return from New Zealand, I have continued to find ways to express the energy that this project brings along upon experience. Thus the light and sound installation was made at TIFA during the KHOJ International Artists Workshop organised by The Good Artists of Pune.