Interview with Kadak Collective: On Comics, Politics and Feminism

Kadak  is a team of eight incredibly talented South Asian women who engage with graphic storytelling as a means to explore the various socio-political and cultural questions of the day – be it daily feminism, sexual and gender identity or life in urban India. Comprising Aindri Chakraborty, Akhila Krishnan, Janine Shroff, Aarthi Parthasarathy, Garima Gupta, Pavithra Dikshit, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan and Mira Malhotra, the Kadak Collective features multi-disciplinary artists who work as illustrators, film-makers, graphic designers, comic creators and the like, along with running their own entrepreneurial ventures. From the hugely successful web comics ‘Rising Existentials’ and ‘Urban Lore’ to innovative enterprises such as the ‘Postcard People’ and the comics journalism blog ‘There Was A Brown Crow’, Kadak’s projects are extremely creative, socially relevant and as they would like to put it ‘strong, severe, sharp – like our tea’.

 

  1. As comic book artists, illustrators and film-makers, how do you navigate between different genres and mediums and artistic identities?

 

Janine: I get bored sometimes using the same medium. And different mediums require different speeds, so I sometimes switch when there is a tighter deadline to mediums that are faster or when in the mood to experiment.

Aindri: I navigate by not keeping myself in a particular bracket alone. I respond to work based on its content and find ways that I know in order to express it. That could mean using animation, films, comics, illustration, photography etc.

Kaveri: As a comics-maker, I stick to using the tools I’m most comfortable with: namely pencils, to create a rough skeleton and tight structure for whatever it is that I want to make. I have a very old stash of different kinds of drawing materials: colour pencils, alcohol markers and watercolours that I layer according to my own whim, and like reusing the same old materials from my comfort zone in different ways depending on each project. I like to think that I navigate through the same themes but explore them in different ways each time. It’s important for me to feel fluid while making work.

Pavithra: Working as a designer, I usually have set briefs from clients which all need to be addressed with a different POV. So adapting to different styles, mediums and outputs is something that comes very naturally to me. While working on independent projects, I prefer doing a long term project with a larger output which gives me room to build and try different things within it. It’s kind of like a disciplined approach to finding newer techniques or learning something supplementary.

Akhila: I don’t think it’s a decision I make consciously – some mediums are better suited to tell stories in a certain way and to reach people in a different way. I don’t like limiting myself as a person who only works in one way eg. a film-maker who works only in film. Perhaps it was because during both my BA and MA I consciously chose to experiment across different mediums for all my projects. I still do that today.

Mira: I can’t deny that it’s tough. I run a studio and create both commercial, client-led work, and my own personal work. A studio can’t be limited to a style and while I have employee/s and interns I still have to be versatile. Sometimes you have to simplify and sometimes maximise elements. I guess I liken it to acting. You have to get yourself ‘in character’ to be able to hit the right mood and feel. It’s really hard when I have a visual idea that doesn’t fit my style of working – time to learn a new style!

Garima: It’s always content first for me. There will be something that can be said in a frame and there will be something that will need a gif. Medium is mostly a secondary thought. Sometimes a one frame comic is enough and sometimes you need a more complex medium to express the idea.

Aarthi: It’s very organic, it just happens. I work as a comic writer, photographer, filmmaker and designer on different projects – I feel it basically entails being present to the moment and responding to it with whatever medium works best.

  1. What do you think graphic storytelling, offers as a medium that other mediums do not? Why did you particularly choose graphic storytelling as a means to examine socio-political concerns?

 

Janine: I struggle with storytelling in a traditional graphic/comic way. My works combine various stories abstractly into one large drawing or painting. But I’m pushing myself to try and tell stories using consecutive images and text in a more traditional way as an exercise.

Aindri: I come from an animation and illustration background. I find comics/graphic storytelling a perfect combination of the two. In comics, you become a writer, filmmaker, editor, typographer, illustrator among many other jobs. The boundaries are limitless and so is the potential.

Kaveri: I find it easiest to tell a story or talk about an idea as a series of images, sounds and movements. I see comics as little films, and have a background in animation which probably honed this. I also write, and it’s a chicken versus egg scenario: sometimes I write a poem that becomes a comic, other times it’s a series of drawings where the text is part of the image and makes it more expressive.

Pavithra: Building a narrative is easier for me as every design I make has to have one. Making a storytelling sequence from a narrative is much harder as I haven’t worked on film or animation much and it’s something that I’m trying to learn. I’ve been pushing my boundaries to try and learn how to storyboard, make comics, film among other things. Hopefully, being a part of the Kadak team is going to help as some of these women are simply fantastic at these things.

Akhila: I don’t see graphic story-telling as purely comic work only. I think of it more as storytelling using images. Which is like animation. The thing that it offers which differs from animation is the process of reading, whether on screen or on a page. There is a sense of pacing to that that is different from time based work. In addition, the format in which I’ve created commissions that can be called ‘graphic story telling’ have been primarily for what are classified as ‘news’ organisations – Live Mint in India. So that format and that context of journalism have added a particular sensibility to the work – both consciously and unconsciously.

Mira: I think graphic storytelling is advantageous because of its accessibility. I see a lot of large projects online addressing the same concerns but they’re in galleries, or they’re fine art, or need to be bought or difficult to get to. I like memes too and they’re a powerful way to change the way people think but I don’t think they move people emotionally. Graphic storytelling isn’t limited to a gallery or exhibition for select people but can be transmitted through a variety of channels for free. It caters to the masses, which helps us reach more people at a time and we are a collective of voices of south Asian women whom you don’t hear from much, so it’s great to use this medium to reach more people.

Garima: I like the medium because it has the potential to be stretched. In one frame you could be talking about here and now and in another you can transform that and talk about something that’s very intangible or existential – all through images. As a maker, that’s very interesting; how far can the image go to say something that words alone can’t.

Aarthi: I’ve grown up with comics, and I enjoy writing. I feel comics are an accessible medium that combine the best of both worlds – visual and verbal. It becomes an interesting way to address socio-political issues, due to their approachable and instant nature.

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Credits: Janine Shroff

  1. Which has been your most fulfilling project you’ve worked on so far? Which was the most reactionary?

Janine: ‘The Queen’ and ‘The Breeders’ were very satisfying because they channelled some of my rage. They might also be the most reactionary, along with ‘Rape Rick’.

Aindri: For me it would be the animation project, ‘Our Oceans’ for World Economic Forum, where I got to team up with the amazing oceanographer, Sylvia Earle.

Kaveri: The most fulfilling project I’ve worked on was a graphic story called ‘Before You Step Out’. It’s directly drawn from my own experiences, comparing walking on a dark road in the city versus the forest. . I wrote and drew it in one go, and feel it answered/brought out some of my own questions of what security means as a woman in India. The most reactionary was probably a comic strip created with Aarthi for a leading Indian newspaper called ‘Apocalyptic Scenarios of Moral Decline’. It’s a satirical take on the archaic dress codes still imposed in a large number of Indian colleges that reminded me of small town school life. A lot of people related to and shared it online.

Pavithra: The most fulfilling one that I worked on was in collaboration with another artist, Deshna Mehta. It’s titled ‘To Whomsoever This May Concern’, and it explores the underlying thread of dependency-judgement-freedom in the lives of Indian women. It was exhibited in London at the Wilding Festival in 2013 and it taught me how to be an observer and talk about an issue without influencing your thoughts onto it. The one which has been most reactionary has been my #ASaladEveryWeek project which a lot of people engage with.  And surprisingly there has been many different takeaway’s from it which is great to hear as it started at one place and now has dynamically transformed.

Akhila: The most fulfilling project that I have worked on and which has been based in a graphic story telling format is two of my comics for ‘The Small Picture’ for Live Mint – ‘21.30 IST’ and ‘Ritual Transfiguration’. Both allowed me to combine fiction and non-fiction in unusual ways to tell important stories.

Mira: Since I run a studio, most of my work is commercial which needless to say isn’t all that fulfilling as I have less control over the result and never the last word. I recently authored and designed a zine on the saree which is currently in production for ELCAF, which we will be at this year. This was a first for me and I found it intensely fulfilling. I explored writing, designing a format, printing etc. fabricating these miniature hangers but none of it felt like work. I hope that it’s my most reactionary piece as it takes the reader through my confusion on how the saree is used to convey or hide sexuality. It’s also edited by Kadak’s Aarthi Parthasarathy. But currently the most reactions I’ve had to a piece of work possibly in terms of how much people relate to it is ‘Bai’. Because the Indian housemaid is someone many people have at home they relate to all the elements in the illustration.

Garima: It’s something that I am currently working on (already been working on for a year actually). It’s a graphic novel in which I am studying human behaviour towards wildlife conservation through stories/accounts of local conservationists in Papua New Guinea and West Papua. The study currently focuses on those who are working to protect the Birds of Paradise in the region. I am exploring the nuances of human behaviour towards wildlife conservation, doing so through first-hand stories/accounts of people who are currently involved in conservation work, but come from backgrounds of conflicted interests (hunters/loggers/poachers etc.). The learnings and accounts from the region will be compiled in the form of a graphic novel.

Aarthi: The most fulfilling and reactionary would be ‘Royal Existentials’, the weekly strip that I created with Chaitanya Krishnan, my partner at our studio Falana Films. It uses vintage art and imagery to talk about a variety of socio-political, cultural and philosophical concerns.

 

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Credits: Mira Malhotra

 

  1. Tell us a bit about Kadak’s early days. How has Kadak evolved over the years?

 

Aindri: Kadak came together as a response call to the East London Comics Festival, June 2016. In that sense we are fairly new. Since we banded together we have been familiarising ourselves with each others’ works, motives behind work and presenting our vision to the world. We are very keen to push the boundaries of graphic storytelling within the subcontinent and we are taking it one step at a time. So far, the response within the group has been very encouraging considering there are many among us who haven’t even met each other. I definitely see myself collaborating with folks within Kadak and would like to invite others for future collaborations with Kadak.

Janine: What Aindri said and also having a Whatsapp group, randomly chatting about things from art to feminism to Azealia Banks is very encouraging.

Pavithra: What Aindri said + it’s refreshing to connect on multiple levels with women on various issues. We agree to disagree on having different points of view. And I have learnt so many things from just being a part of Kadak.

Akhila: Kadak has been around since the start of this year only – though a lot of its members have either known of each other’s work, or known each other and worked together in the past. We’re still developing and discussing the idea of the collective and what we hope to achieve collectively. On a personal note it been great to become part of this network of amazing women – dare I use the word sisterhood?

Mira: Kadak is really new and it’s fun to see it evolve. I am part of some women’s groups on Whatsapp or otherwise but I feel most at home on our Kadak Whatsapp group. We disagree, talk about personal experiences and it’s really like a sisterhood like Akhila said. The best part is that we build upon each other’s stories and provide alternate POVs to everything. It’s a great place to get feedback. All 8 of us haven’t worked on a single project together yet but I really hope we get a chance to soon!

Garima: Well, early days were a real rush. The idea of a collective was so new and exciting! Waking up to 200-300 messages on Whatsapp and reading through it, the comments, personal experiences; we really got to know so much about each other even though we are so far away.

Aarthi: Kadak came together early this year, as a response to ELCAF. In the beginning we didn’t know what we were going to do, how we would go about it. But now that we’ve gotten to know each other and understood our varied approaches to work and processes, it’s clearer as to where we can go from here and how, given that ELCAF just finished.  It’s really great being part of this group of amazing women – we share our work, concerns, reactions to news, recommendations, thoughts. Learning a lot.

 

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Credits: Kaveri Gopalakrishnan

 

  1. What is your opinion on the graphic novel scene in India today? Who are the South Asian women artists whose work you particularly admire and why?

 

Janine: I’m not well versed in the graphic novel scene in India. I started collecting comics mostly in London but eventually stopped because I ran out of room, so I’m probably more familiar with either Indian web comics or firang printed comics. I’ve like Amruta Patil’s work ever since someone gave me ‘Kari’ as a gift and I really love her evolving painting style for the newer works. I also have been stalking Aindri, Aarthi and Kaveri’s works for ages.

Aindri: I am not a big comics aficionado and am not very familiar with the graphic novel scene in India. I spent one afternoon at Aarthi’s house poring over her fantastic comics collection. That afternoon impacted me in a huge way.  I really like Aarthi’s knowledge of and dedication to the medium, so it’s cool to have someone like that in our collective. She pointed me to ‘Sanitary Panels’ by Rachita and I really like them!

Kaveri : The scene’s growing, there’s a place for everyone now that webcomics are getting so popular and you can access and upload anytime anywhere. I follow a lot of independent comics makers online and make an effort to find as much people from our subcontinent as possible who are telling their own stories through a non-western eye. I’m particularly kicked to be a part of Kadak because these are a representation of a kind of South Asian women who make work that I admire: diverse, authentic, not restricted to a single identity and questioning ourselves while making work beyond just creating it for social media.

Pavithra: I’m not into the comic world per say. But the design, illustration and art scene in India is growing at a very good pace. It’s an incredibly good time to be an independent designer/artist in the country and make a name for yourself. And as Kaveri said above – particularly kicked about being a part of Kadak.

Akhila: I admire many artists – I don’t really focus on them in terms of the region they are from, though. I love Jillian Tamaki (she’s Canadian but of Asian origin). If I had to give a shout out to other women from India, apart from the lovely women at the Kadak Collective – I also have a lot of admiration for Priya Kuriyan – who was part of the team that created the book, ‘Drawing the Line’, which is a real feat. Prabha Mallya is amazing, I’ve watched her work for awhile now. I also really enjoyed ‘Adi Parva’ by Amruta Patil.

Mira: I like Prabha Mallya, Amruta Patil and others too. I really like Yashasvi Mathis, Rajni Pereira (her nudes on dinosaurs are great), Samya Arif (her feminist work), Kruttika Susarla, and of course I’ve been friend and fan of Aarthi’s and Aindri’s work for ages now. They’re really great with the medium. Recently, I really loved Priya Sebastian’s Mint Lounge Big Picture on witchhunts in India. Her ghoulish characters condemning women turned the tables around for the way we should be seeing the victim-perpetrator relationship. Mostly I would say I really appreciate the rawness in the work as it’s a little hard for me to be as raw in my own work.

Garima: It’s very interesting, actually. It’s so new that there are no rules. Unlike the American or Japanese comic scene, the ‘scene’ here is so wild and uninhibited. Everyone is making really different and potent stuff. I admire Prabha Mallya’s work, like the raw yet very delicate storytelling style. Aindri’s work is so powerful, have always admired her unique ways of making comics. Her comic about periods and menstrual cups was so fascinating!

Aarthi: Thanks Aindri! I think the scene is growing fast, and there’s a lot of great work out there on print, and in the online space as well. I’m very honoured to be working with the women of Kadak, who are amazing – I love Aindri, Kaveri, Garima’s comics and Janine, Mira, Akhila and Pavithra’s art. I really also like Amruta Patil, Prabha Mallya, Priya Kurian, Annie Zaidi’s writing.

 

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Credits: Aindri Chakraborty

 

  1. What is the most challenging part in creating a meaningful and successful graphic narrative?

 

Janine: For me it’s always been the writing. I can write and I can draw but I struggle to put them together. I’d like to push myself more to combine the two.

Aindri: The most challenging part about graphic narratives for me is the story and the way it’s told. I usually gravitate towards comics where the use of medium and content fit in seamlessly. I like the use of different mediums in Maira Kalman’s work.

Kaveri: Telling a good story, making it meaningful. Anyone with some practice can make a good looking visual. Does it leave your reader with something more? Are they going to frame it on their wall, or wear down its pages?

Pavithra: For me the challenging part is getting the subject/intent right. Once I have that in place, getting the rest of the elements piece in together is fairly easier. And of course, the details.

Akhila: The way in which the words and image come together to tell the story. Giving it enough space to breathe. My working process is very strange – I think about ideas and let my words and image percolate together for a long, long time in my head, before just going for it when I draw. I really admire people who craft their visuals over a long period of time.

Mira: Unlike Janine I find the drawing harder. Especially because I change up my style all the time. The ideas and writing is a bit easier. I once read an interview with Craig Thompson and Alison Bechdel, and Alison’s discomfort with drawing and intense photo referencing felt very familiar to me, unlike Craig’s comfort with drawing and discomfort with writing.

Garima: Oh well, so many! Not overindulging, not being preachy, I mean it’s mostly to do with ‘what is it that you’d like to read yourself?’ And I’m very picky about that, so being the devil’s advocate.

Aarthi: I totally agree with Garima! The challenge is making something that you can look at again without cringing.

 

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Credits: Aarthi Parthasarathy

 

 

  1. Do you believe that the future of comics lies in web comics? How far as technology influenced your work? Would you feel restrained if you had to work in traditional mediums alone?

 

Aindri: With webcomics, you have the option of including moving image, sound and other interactive elements which you can’t in print. I sometimes film the comics or use gifs which make for a different reading experience.

But that doesn’t mean that you cannot innovate within print (case in point flip books). One of my favourite comics (I am sorry I can’t remember the name) was about losing hair. The only way you could read it was using a hair dryer over the pages that revealed the comics. The artist had used heat sensitive ink to get the point across, which I thought was brilliant!

Kaveri: I love print, I am very affectionate and possessive of my collection of books and feel strongly of a well printed graphic novel or zine or anthology that I can keep as part of my physical space. Having said that, yeah, technology is just another tool: I use Photoshop minimally now only because I have used it for so many years that I am comfortable relying less on it. Working traditionally makes me feel more free and confident of my own hand. Webcomics are amazing because they’re so non-exclusive and out there on the big bad internet. Even if I work on a story by hand I want to upload it so anyone can access my comics.

Pavithra: Honestly I love technology and embrace it wholeheartedly in the world of design, storytelling, narratives etc. As I don’t necessarily only work in comics, so can’t tell in a very specific case.

Akhila: I feel that web comics can tell a certain kind of story well – they create certain narrative structures better than print. I am not sure about them holding the future; I think print will continue to exist. I am really excited about the prospect of working with gifs though – and creating a comic work with those. That medium really exists only online.

Mira: My first love is print and traditional analogue methods, but I am also a great proponent of practicality and accessibility. So I like the affordability and reach of digital media. I am not a comic artist per se, so I cannot comment on the future of web comics. I love the forgiving nature of digital and its ability for reproduction and its allowance for experimentation. The undo command is a great friend of mine. However I love the smell of paint, the feel of pencil pen or crayon on paper. I miss it!

Garima: I haven’t made any webcomic, yet. So, it’s difficult to say. I do have an online project in which I make work around the subject of Mumbai and its architectural heritage called ‘Project Bambai’ and that only has an online presence apart from some artworks that do go out as Mumbai Art Map (City map for art and culture events) covers.

Aarthi: Webcomics are so versatile and fun! With Royal Existentials, it’s been a great learning experience – putting work out there, getting reactions, getting ideas.

 

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Credits: Garima Gupta

 

  1. What are the most ‘taboo’ topics that you’ve explored in your work? Could you tell us a bit about your creative process while tackling controversial subjects?

 

Janine: The most taboo subject I tackled was ‘Rape Rick’, because it was both intensely personal about my anxiety and also very open to interpretation and confrontational. I think it seeing the word ‘Rape’ in large script font can be very jarring for people.

Aindri: The most taboo subject matters in my comics have been those surrounding my childhood eg. ‘What Does Honour Mean‘ (about rape in cinema) and ‘No Thanks’ (sexual harassment experience as a child which I am presenting at ELCAF) and ‘Green Period‘ (about menstrual cups). They have been hardest to work with because you are revisiting that memory with the same amount of confusion and distress. My process usually starts with an intensely personal experience that is followed by research: finding answers, numbers, and testimonies around same experience. I like to have both micro and macro points of view in the story – it’s a mix of autobiography and investigation.

Kaveri: For me the personal could be taboo. I don’t know where the line is drawn yet, and I’m still exploring. How much is too much, when does it become self-indulgent or is it an exercise in bringing up relevant questions to yourself and others? Political and religious satire is taboo, if it’s direct references that you can’t sugar coat with a nice image. I’m working on a book where the main character, a European girl, is being harassed by a group of Indian boys. There are a lot of undertones, the scene is through her eyes, there is the lens of preconceived notions, some colonialism in there, also how unwilling we are to talk about the ugly underbelly of our country and how quick we are to defend our reputation as Indians when outsiders call our country unsafe for women.

Pavithra: Haven’t really worked on anything very socially controversial. While working on ‘To Whomsoever This May Concern’, we were just allowing subtle nuances to find light. I don’t think it was necessarily us discussing a taboo of some sort. Similarly the rest of my work stems from a personal point of view and I find that putting myself into a piece of work has had the best results for me.

Akhila: I don’t really think about making work in that way. I suppose a lot of my work is incisive and political anyway, I try to present situations I read about and represent my reactions to them in a subverted manner. I believe it’s better showing people a scenario and letting them draw their own conclusions.

Mira: I’ve recently been touching on the erotic in my work. Experimenting with symbols and motifs that signify eroticism but are free of the male gaze (at least in my opinion). Like referencing Georgia O’Keeffe in my last series, ‘Tainted Love’. Also cobras mating and cherries and all sorts of things like that. I was raised Catholic , so I was always afraid of sex and my own sexuality and I thought it was dirty. It didn’t help that many men I met made me further uncomfortable and also spread rumours about me. Finally now that I am married, I feel at home with it. The zine on the saree also covers some of this subject matter, on how the saree is equal parts subdued and graceful, and equal parts raunchy and brazen.

Garima: For the Spring Collective’s 13th issue I made a comic about independent thoughts. As women I feel we tend to follow more than lead and that has a lot to do with what we have been told all our lives. Stuff like ‘a girl sits like this, not that’, ‘a woman needs to look like this, not that’. It’s something that has bothered me for so long. This thought-police! And what’s even more disturbing is when one internalises this kind of policing and starts doing it to others.

I had been thinking about this but not as a comic. At the Spring residency, I shared the idea with others (15 German and 15 Indian women) and strangely everyone admitted to have felt the same. When I started to make the comic, one thing that I really wanted to keep away from was sounding like the thought-police! One can very easily slip into that realm without realising. Eventually I gave the thought police a shape and form in the comic. They were born out of the ‘words’ so they had to look like speech bubbles. It was interesting to create something that was so real and yet unreal.

Aarthi: Hmm. I don’t really try to approach a topic because it’s taboo – that would be sensationalism. If the story comes organically, then the intent is to tell it as honestly as possible. The comic ‘The Same Everywhere‘ that I worked on with Kaveri Gopalakrishnan for the anthology ‘First Hand’, being published by Yoda Press is about Section 377 and the recriminalization of homosexuality in India; it talks about events through a cross-continental friendship.

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Credits: Kaveri Gopalakrishnan and Aarthi Parthasarathy

 

  1. Given that some of you work across different cities and cultures, how have the places you lived and the multiple identities influenced your work?

 

Janine: Living and working in London for this long expanded my worldview on art and subjects and also not being afraid to confront people with not entirely pleasant subjects.

Aindri: I come from Calcutta which used to be the empire’s capital in south Asia. Growing up I have had the chance to interact with both anglophiles and stauch nationalists. I came to London to study and have been here since. I felt that because I could already speak the language, it would be easier for me to acclimatise. To my surprise, I realised how little aware was I of the commonwealth and our neighbours in South Asia. I find myself relating a lot to what expats and other artists from the ‘commonwealth’ are speaking and asking. My most recent project with Numbi Arts was discovering the Somali history of east London, a country I knew very little about. That was very enlightening. A lot of the work I gravitate towards is part archival, part confessional, part angry and part comical about the absurdity of the empire. In that respect, I have found it easier to shed the surface of my Indianness and look for some other connecting factors that I share with others. This new cultural identity is still in the works.

Kaveri: I have grown up in different worlds, of small town and large city and rural farm area, and I feel that that reflects in my world: contradictions of living between these spaces and the kind of strong connection and peace I feel about living in more isolated, nature-filled areas. I currently live in a large metro and there’s a constant yearning that translates into my work.

Pavithra: I was born in one city (Chennai) and raised in another (Bombay), but I find a different kind of home in both places. I’m constantly influenced by ‘home’ as a concept in different ways and try and involve it in the work I do. And each time I travel, I try and find newer homes, or some kind of connections which I try and involve in the work I do.

Akhila: Yes this is a big part of my work – this sense of displacement; always on the outside looking in. I suppose this is why the process of documentary drawing and collecting of materials is important to my practice as well – I am trying to collect traces of things, places, people all the time.

Mira: Yes I was born to a couple that came from two different religions, two different cultures and who rejected many notions of Indian tradition. As a catholic, I am anyway in the minority in India. But I was raised in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia to be exact. And we were allowed to relate to any culture that we liked. Coming back to India really felt like jumping over a chasm and this inability to settle down or belong is always a driving factor in my work because I feel like an outsider.

Garima: It’s always refreshing to work from new places. It’s something I really look forward to. A large part of my life was spent in Delhi, I moved to Mumbai only 4 years ago and that was the best thing that happened to me. I enjoy the freedom that the city offers to a woman. It really helped me go an extra mile and create ‘Project Bambai’. The city taught me how to loiter!

Aarthi: My father worked in the Indian Railways, so I grew up and travelled all around the country. That really helped me at least begin to understand this crazy, crazy place and all that makes it. A lot of the observations from there make their way into how I think and write.

 

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Credits: Akhila Krishnan

 

  1. What are the projects that the Kadak Collective is working on? How do you think Kadak Collective will evolve over the next five years? As artists and as individuals, what are the socio-political concerns that you want your artwork to affect and change for the better?

 

Aindri: We have just finished a proposal to create work around the theme of gender. Keeping our fingers crossed! We are taking it as it comes at the moment. We as a collective vary on spectrum of queer, straight, married, single etc. and I am convinced that our voice will continue to champion that diversity.

Janine: What Aindri said and we’re also working on a small little magazine, expanding on our Whatsapp chats and personal bios in illustrated form.

Akhila: As Aindri said, we are making proposals to get funding to do more work together. We have put together a zine for ELCAF that has begun this process already. I am looking forward to our conversations continuing from off our phones onto other mediums. In the future, we want to continue to explore ideas of diversity and present alternate voices.

Garima: I like the idea that we come from very diverse backgrounds. It will be great when we will make our first work, I can already foresee our Whatsapp group crashing under millions of messages!

Aarthi: We’re working on a zine, and we’re exploring other avenues for collaboration. I hope Kadak can become an interesting, thriving space for storytelling and collaboration in South Asia.

Find out more about their latest projects on their Tumblr blog and like their Facebook page for artist updates and some really incredible thought-provoking art.
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Previously published in EyeZine, edited by Pallab Deb.
Images belong to Kadak Collective.

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