SHIFT 2015/16 INTERVIEW: SHEETAL PRAJAPATI
Alex Lee & Nick Witchey (EFA Project Space Interns)
How did your work develop over the course of the residency?
Over the course of this residency, I was able to develop two new works.
Did the experience of working alongside the other SHIFT residents affect your approach and final work?
Peer support and time were key elements of this residency for the development of these works. The two-week intensive provided time for me to focus on developing ideas while producing thread. Over the course of the following nine months, the monthly meetings served as a space for focused dialogue about each of our projects. The feedback I received for my projects was equally valuable as my participation in group discussions.
In Parallel Current, you combine personal history (the 29 bindis that you wore last year) with Greco-Roman and Indian astronomy. What do you see as the link between these realms?
One symbolic meaning of the bindi is that of Lord Shiva’s third eye, a portal between the physical and spiritual world that, when opened, allows one world to influence the other. The historical narratives of the constellation frame this collection of stars as a pathway or stream between worlds, both in Roman and Indian astronomies. In this work, the bindis, each representing one star in the constellation, form a pathway, creating a portal through their collective form and singular meaning.
Your other piece, Meditation (Manifestation), combines themes of economic resistance and human spirituality through the act of hand-spinning cotton. What was this months-long process like?
For me, spinning is a meditative act. The physical process becomes rhythmic over time, creating the potential for mental and physical balance. The time I spent spinning and setting this material then served both as a means for material production and conceptual thought.
Can you talk about the tactile nature of your work?
I’m interested in investigating notions of intimacy, identity, and ideology through material processes.
Can you describe what you do as an organizer of educational arts programming? How does this influence your approach to making art?
For me, making creative work is a continuation of a longer and deep interest in creative expression and intimacy. These two qualities are central to my work as both an educator and an artist.
Which artist(s) or cultural producer(s) would you cite as a major influence for you?
Raul Cardenas and Torolab (Tijuana, Mexico) – I am inspired by Raul’s commitment to his practice as a vehicle for social change and his overall view of making, which is a collective, community-focused practice.
Nalini Malani – I only became familiar with her work in 2012 when I traveled to documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany. There I saw her piece, Gamepieces 2003/2009. This immersive, multi-sensory piece combined sound, movement, projection, and sculpture to create an installation that drew you into each element – welcoming you to make time to let the narrative emerge as your eyes moved through the space. This piece is now in MoMA’s collection and I had the chance to revisit the experience when it was installed in the galleries last year.
In what way is the title NO ATLAS reflected in your work?
I think this title connects to my work in the exhibition as an expression of the singularity in infinite space. Both works consider the individual’s relationship to a larger and more abstracted space – these pieces are expressions of finding one’s way through what can be viewed as endless.