Projects 108: Gauri Gill

MoMA PS1 presents the US premiere of photographer Gauri Gill’s most recent body of work, Acts of Appearance, a series of vivid color photographs for which the artist worked closely with members of an Adivasi community in Jawhar district, Maharashtra, India. Gill’s collaborator-subjects are renowned for their papier-mâché objects, including traditional sacred masks. In these pictures they engage in everyday village activities while wearing new masks, made expressly for this body of work, which depict living beings with the physical characteristics of humans, animals, or valued objects. A range of scenarios and narratives, situated in both “reality” and dreamlike states, come together in the photographs, which simultaneously portray symbolic or playful representations as well as the familiar experiences of community members against the backdrop of their home and culture.

Trained as a painter and applied artist, Gill (b. 1970, Chandigarh, India) later turned to photography as her primary medium. Her photographs, which chronicle the lives of those rendered powerless by state forces and societal structures, are deeply attentive to the means by which individuals try to overcome their circumstances. Acts of Appearance is presented here alongside a selection of Gill’s older photographs from Rajasthan, revealing echoes between works made over several years in different locations across India, and emphasizing her continuing involvement with rural communities and local artists.