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Do ghosts feel jealous if you miss the living ones more than them?

close up shot of semi dry mud being rubbed on the foot using hands and grass

What haunts more?

An unpresence, an absence or a phantom presence.

IMG_1984 // 6th Nov, 2021 // 5:18 AM

and this night, I believed in everything.

This is a story of love, death and everything in between.

Grounded in the concept of Hauntology, the project sheds light on the lingering impact of unresolved emotions and memories. The project aims to understand the complex emotional states that intertwine memory and loss. It captures the dissonance between absence and presence, evoking a profound sense of longing and resignation. 

Drawing inspiration from Roland Barthes‘ concept of the punctum, the poignant detail in an image that evokes a deeply personal and emotional response, I dive deep into my personal archive to search for images that evoke vivid memories of the pivotal moments in my life.

With an autoethnographic approach, I excavate memories and engage in intimate conversations with family, friends, and strangers. In the process, I explore my insecurities and strengths and gain a profound understanding of myself. The project seeks to illuminate the transformative power of love and death and shed light on the haunting allure of unrequited love and grief.

an image with about fifty thousand thumbnails of my iPhone photo archive, looks like a huge grid of photos, a really huge one, sunlight falls on it from the back, it's a print on a transparent sheet pasted on a glass wall.

why did you cry?

sometimes i wonder, when did it all start?

this feeling of love, this longing, this grief, this obsession, this feeling of knowing someone from some past life, this phantom presence in the absence, the guilt, the shame, this feeling of unworthiness, the pain in the breathing, the occasional bursts of happiness, the unexpected tears out of nowhere, the madness.

The roots.

In the depths of my dreams, I am reunited with my beloved younger brother, Fukun, who departed this world in 2010 at the tender age of 12. His absence lingers within me, and I find solace in our imagined conversations. It feels as though his spirit resides within me, guiding and comforting me through life’s trials.

To capture his essence, I dive into my photographic archive, unearthing cherished memories frozen in time. These photographs become a medium through which I engage in a dialogue with Fukun, overlaying words upon his images to bridge the gap between past and present.

But Fukun’s presence extends beyond my dreams and photographs. In quiet moments, I feel his unseen hand guiding me, his laughter whispering through the rustling leaves. His absence serves as a constant reminder of the fragility of life and the profound impact of loss. 

In 2021, I met Ananya during my Master’s at NID Ahmedabad, our shared love for photography, music, art, and literature fostered a bond of friendship. But it was our mutual understanding of death and the weight of loss that truly cemented our connection. Through conversations about grief and recommended readings, I found solace in her presence, peeling back layers of pain and healing.

As our bond grew, I mustered the courage to express my feelings for Ananya. She, however, needed space and time to heal from her own wounds, and her honest admission dealt a blow to my already fragile state. The rupture in our friendship left me emotionally drained, questioning my self-worth and priorities in life.

Seeking a fresh start, I made the decision to leave Ahmedabad and dropped out of NID. A new chapter beckoned at the Royal College of Art (RCA), an institution that offered me a full tuition scholarship from Apple. Relocating brought a change of scenery, yet the longing for Ananya persisted—a smouldering ember within the depths of my heart.

In moments of tears and contemplation, I wondered how Fukun would perceive my anguish. Would he be jealous of the depth of my longing for Ananya? Did I miss her more than I missed him? These thoughts haunted me, giving birth to the title of my project at RCA—”Do ghosts feel jealous if you miss the living ones more than them?” It encapsulated the intricate interplay of loss, longing, and the complexities of human emotions.

Within the halls of RCA, I delved into my photographic archive, sifting through fragments of memory. I sought guidance from psychologists and engaged in profound conversations with psychotherapists, unraveling the impact of unattended grief and the significance of funeral ceremonies. It became apparent that I had never truly accepted Fukun’s death or properly mourned his loss. His absence remained as a phantom presence, weighing upon my soul.

Ananya held a unique place in my journey of grief and longing. She was the first person in years to inquire deeply about Fukun, questioning our closeness. Defining “closeness” became a contemplative exercise, as I grappled with the inexplicable connection I felt with Ananya, despite never having met her in person. Perhaps it was a bond forged in a past life—a question that remained unanswered.

The project becomes a space where performance breathes soul into narratives, and writing unveils the depths of our inner worlds. The project creates an intimate sanctuary for contemplation, connection, and the profound exploration of the intricate tapestries that weave our narratives.

Performance acts as a vessel, bringing forth raw emotions and experiences to spark empathy and understanding. Performative writing unveils the closely acquainted narratives etched upon the pages, weaving a delicate web of vulnerability, introspection, and self-discovery. 

And within the therapeutic embrace of phototherapy, the project harnesses the healing power of the image-making process and images, fostering personal growth and transformation.

An old family photo with handwritten text on it. A kid with his brother and mother are on the bed.

Through my artistic expressions—a photo-book filled with captured memories, immersive performance art, heartfelt writings, evocative films, and the raw recordings of my voice notes and dream fragments—I seek to share the reflections of my journey

It is my hope that those who have experienced similar depths of grief and loss will find solace within these pages, discovering echoes of their own struggles and resilience. May my exploration become a beacon of light, guiding others towards healing and the embrace of fragmented souls.

Amidst the gentle melancholia that permeates the air, we are reminded of the transformative potential hidden within our deepest sorrows and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.

Love, Death, and everything in between.

I am looking to collaborate with performers, sound artists, sculpture artists, photographers, and writers to create certain elements to infuse more life into the story and exhibition. I am looking for a curator who could help me bring my vision to life in an exhibition space

More than anything else, I want to connect with people who believe in love and understand the fragility of life.

I am also looking forward to connecting with book publishers who would be willing to give me a chance to let my photographs from my archive, and pages from my journals, find their home on the sacred pages of a beautiful book.

Love, Death, Loss, Longing, Grief, Healing, Emotions, Reflections, Memories, Nostalgia, Dreams, Sleep, Anxiety, Trauma, Therapy, Siblings, Friendship, Romantic Love, Ghosting, Relationship, Breakup, Insecurities, Toxic Traits, Mental Health, Communication, Art Therapy, Autoethnography, Hauntology, Music, Writing, Photography, Art, Performance Art, Body, Archive, Soundscape, Audio Recording, Voice Notes.

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