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Global Capitalism has found a way to commodify identity by enslaving the populous with millions of ever shifting configurations of the symbol led ‘requirements’ of this identity. Mobile phones, trendy restaurants, fashionable tourist destinations etc. The ‘little’ man, and his original, creative, idiosyncratic expression is slowly being stamped out in favour of a blander, more homogenous, cosmopolitan automan. Our value system today has become almost entirely financial. If something is not commercially viable, “get rid of it” seems to be the mantra because even for countries to stay afloat and ‘relevant’ in Global Capitalism, they must sell, sell, sell.
Coming from the Indian-African background, I am aware of how conditioned we have been by the ‘British’ version of world events, and how this colonial education (for better or worse) may have locked us out of our own original thought and identity making. I am not talking about religious rituals or the stageset and props behind National Day Parades and Diwali festivals.…..I am referring to the ‘new 21st century, largely urban Asian’. Who is he or she?? And what is this modern Asian with the new, powerful voice saying and feeling? What do they look like?
It is this self image, ethnic / national identity and the way we relate to each other that is what is under scrutiny in a lot of my work, which is ultimately about…..people. I try and chronicle their stories when they are the least self-conscious, and this I find in ‘the street’. This is where we reveal ourselves….where we collectively say more than we know. These information highways are full of information and clues as to where we came from and where we may be heading. I am not attempting to romanticize the past, but rather ‘re-validate’ it by showing the interconnectedness between our past, present and future.
During my travels in India, I stumble across quiet displays of ingenious creativity. However, I suspect that there is a shortage of platforms in which these ‘creative’ two way conversations can be had with the public. At the risk of generalization, I would say that Indian Design has become entangled with foreign brands and status, often substituting its own story telling with projections borne from foreign cultures and sensibilities. For a young girl to spend her whole month’s salary on a branded handbag makes no sense. Overt minimalism for a country bursting with colour and texture seems strange, yet we are all tuning into many homogenous presentations and reproductions of copies of copies from somewhere else. We are witnessing the demise of the individual. Any demonstration of the opposite of that is something I would dearly welcome, even if the end product is not finished or slick.
PROJECT BRITINDIA BY KETNA PATEL + JON READING
SUMMER 2018: 'DIARY OF TRANSCIENCE' PROJECT BY JON READING + KETNA PATEL