People from Before (2008)

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People from Before, 2008, 3-Channel Video Installation with Unique Photographs

People From Before is a three-channel video in which Grandma and Grandpa, prompted by a trove of old photographs, reminisce about their families in India and try to untangle their grandson’s visit. The artist’s grandparents were born in India and moved to London in 1947; his parents were educated in Britain and moved to the US when he was very young. The videos span a four year period in which the artist’s grandparent’s reminisce and recall their life story fighting for India’s independence, moving to London just before it occurred, recovering from TB in Davos, and starting the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in London. Unsurprisingly, talk some-times turns to issues related to cultural displacement. But at heart, the work addresses familial hierarchies, emotional availability, and Kansara’s attempts to find meaning in his beloved elders’ memories when those are set half a world away. Grandma visibly delights in conversation for its own sake; she seems more mentally agile than Grandpa but defers to him anyway. During the course of the interview, they reveal aspects of their upbringing, such as the disparity in their economic backgrounds, and the imprisonment of Grandma’s father during India’s struggle for independence.

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