Personal Paradigms |

The Image World

Yashna Kaul

A cloud, (1988). Manali. 2017. Collage.

A photograph is too many things. Is it a reminder of the sitter or the one whose memory it belongs to? On the day of my grandfather’s funeral, his eldest daughter had hesitated before taking one last photo of him. I wondered what that image meant. Months earlier, his youngest had travelled to India to visit “nanaji” who was unable to recognise her. To break the silence, we had spoken about seva—the Sikh teaching of selfless servitude; about how in family we have the privilege to practice seva too—first the parents for their children and then the other way.

I couldn’t serve my father in his final days, but I attend to him now through his photos. The ongoing project is my seva toward my father. Traces of memories he lost to Alzheimer’s were found compressed in the pages of tucked away albums. Some are revived in seconds, now unfolding endlessly on screens. Others are recovered only as half-remembered dreams—fragmented, fleeting, yet eager to be reconstructed.

As Susan Sontag has noted, “In the real world, something is happening and no one knows what is going to happen. In the image world, it has happened, and it will forever happen in that way.”

Yashna Kaul is a Delhi based artist working in the expanded photographic field. She is presently focused on exploring the authenticity and materiality of photographs. Her project, The Image World is a mediation on the shifting nature of photography and record keeping; and a contemplation on the concepts of memory, family, mourning, melancholia, and the many things in between.

A horizon (1988). Srinagar. 2017. Collage.

Two pools (1988). Srinagar. 2017. Collage.

A father (1986). Mumbai. 2017. Collage.

A tree (1986). Sonmarg. 2017. Collage.

Everywhere (1969/1995). New Delhi/Pahalgam. 2017. Collage.

Self-portraits with dad (1975/1995). New Delhi/New York. 2017. Collage.

Hear Yashna Kaul talk about The Image World here