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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.

Acts of Appearance is presented in this exhibition alongside a selection of photographs from Notes from the Desert—a multi-series body of work photographed in rural Rajasthan that Gill began in 1999. This pairing draws parallels between works made over several years in different locations across India, and emphasizes Gill’s sustained engagement with rural communities and local artists.

Trained as a painter and applied artist, Gauri Gill (b. 1970, Chandigarh, India) has consistently advocated for and supported other artists, both those trained in art colleges and those who received informal training outside of institutions, and embraced collaboration in her work. In addition to working closely with the subjects of her photographs, Gill has also expanded her practice by incorporating materials made by others, as with the masks in Acts of Appearance.

Acts of Appearance was created with the participation of Bhagvan Dharma Kadu, Subhas Dharma Kadu, Yuvraj Bhagvan Kadu, Rahul Arvind Kakad, Rahul Bhagvan Kadu, Makhaval Bhagvan Kadu, Madhuri Subhas Kadu, Rangeeta Arvind Kakad, Darshana Devram Kakad, Ganesh Ganpat Lokhande, Sangeeta Ganesh Lokhande, Sangeeta Navnath Kadu, Kusum Bhagvan Kadu, Harishchandra Rama Kadu, Suvrna Harishchandra Vad, and Anjana Sachin Kurbude; along with Sachin Sankar Kurbude, Sanjay Sakharam Vatas, Ganpat Ganga Lokhande, Rupesh Arvind Kakad, Nalini Pradip Valvi, Jyoti Sanjay Vatas, Shravan Budhya Tumbda, Saraswati Subhas Kadu, Sapna Bhagvan Kadu, Bhawna Bhagvan Kadu, Pooja Arvind Kakad, Tushar Prakash Vatas, Tushar Dinkar Vatas, Vijaya Navnath Kadu, Suraj Tukaram Vad, Nishant Tulshiram Thalkar, and Nilam Sunil Marad.

Initiated by MoMA in 1971 as a platform for new and experimental art, the Elaine Dannheisser Projects Series, presented at both The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1, provides a forum for the most urgent international voices in contemporary art.

Organized by Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art.

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