I have a had a life-long love of the arts; enjoying theatre, ballet, art and movies. We are all time poor and have limits to our entertainment budget so I hope an honest review will help make your choices easier.
Shivanjani Lal is a twice removed Fijian Indian Australian artist whose history is intrinsically linked to the indentured labour diaspora of Asia and the Pacific. She explains that 'Fiji was one of the last communities to receive indentured labour, with the first ship leaving India in 1879 and carrying 463 people. A practice that continued through to 1921 with 60,553 people left behind in Fiji, unable to return to India after the practice ended'.
This year is the 140th anniversary of the first indentured labour ship leaving India. Most of us wouldn't be aware of this history but as with many such histories the ramification, in particular, the sense of displacement it caused has echoed down through the generations. Shivanjani who moved to Australia from Fiji when she was two, explains that she lived many years of her life bouncing between Fiji, Australia and India trying to find her roots, as a descendant of indentured Indians living in Fiji Shivanjani often felt like she was 'not really Indian/desi, but not quite pacific either'.
In this exhibition, Shivanjani explores her heritage as it links to the indentured labour communities of India and the Pacific. Her work uses multiple mediums to explore her cultural dislocation. Shivanjani uses spatial and material activations along with video to create documents that analyse her personal narratives in the broader context of the social history that brought her family from India to Fiji and now to Australia. This is done in an effort to redefine the history of the Indo-Fijian Community away from the narratives produced by the current political climate in both Fiji and India.
At the centre of the exhibition, Shivanjani uses stitching to create visible links that record the journeys made by her community and herself: connecting and remaking the lines of connection. In looking at shipping documents and in using a map which centres Australia between these oceans, she reframes this history by acknowledging the role of Australia as the localised colonial presence.
The exhibition will be held in the Metro Arts Main Gallery from March 27 March to April 13, with opening night on 27 March at 6pm. Shivanjani's will also be presenting her work and her story during an Artist talk session on 13 April at 3pm, in conversation with Sancintya Mohini Simpson.