Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Here in Gurugram, tall, uniform, cold, imposing buildings loom over a newly developed metropolis, futilely competing with each other to become remarkable landmarks of the near future. Here, I close my eyes and fondly remember the celebratory streets and inextinguishable, vibrant atmosphere of New Delhi, one of the oldest cities in the country, which I used to joyfully call my home. Opening my eyes, all I see when I look outside my window are either vast spans of bare land or vertical skyscrapers and construction sites. Memories of home, objects, places, and streets are my living archive of my past experiences and journey to the present.
In my thesis work, a textile installation hung in a residential lobby, I juxtapose the unfamiliar, stark modernity found in Gurugram with my sentiments of belonging to the age-old traditions and materiality of New Delhi. I address the loss of a rich heritage, culture, and identity, the intrusion of modernity, idealistic aspirations bound by standardization, and a sense of estrangement towards a fast-progressing place. Transforming these issues into woven repositories of memory, my textiles narrate the tangible and intangible negotiations of my journey, leading to an aspirational co-existence of the two worlds. The imagery, patterns, and surfaces of the seven textile panels in Building Narratives originated from my walks through the lanes and by-lanes of New Delhi as well as amid the massive, modern buildings of Gurugram over the past two years. Paying attention to patches, marks, spills, lines, layers, colors, and textures that often go unnoticed allowed me to find continuity between the two cities. In the studio, I begin by drawing the simple, clean, geometric forms of modernist buildings, then disrupt the grid with layering, color, cutting through, and clipping away to reveal a contrasting pattern beneath. My textiles are finally realized in jacquard and as digital printed fabrics.
Through my thesis work I have tried to find ‘the space in-between’, a middle path and unified vision between traditions and modernity—both in cities and in craft and design—that embraces a holistic identity. This book narrates the story of my and my family’s experience of displacement and migration to a new city and memoirs of my life in the city I used to call home. It is a written and visual record of my inspiration, process, experimentation, and investigation. Through the translation of my ideas into textiles designed for modern spaces in India, I wish to engage the audience in an inquiry about the risk of cultural heritage loss with the burgeoning international style of architecture in contemporary cities. I want people to immerse themselves in this installation, slow down for a moment, and really think about what has been lost—and what might be regained.
Aggarwal, Sharanya, "Building narratives: instilling old stories in new spaces" (2021). Masters Theses. 808.
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