Today, an hour before my dinner at 6 pm with a work colleague, I plan to stand on the corner of 60th and 5th avenue and gaze up at this 18 foot statue.
It was created by British artist Bharti Kher.
Being born first-generation American, I never quite glommed on to what it meant to be “Indian.” At school, I was never quite American enough either. So there is the hell that sits in the middle. There is an awkwardness around ‘what am I supposed to do’ around Diwali, which New York state will recognize as a public school holiday starting next year. Nothing feels completely authentic, even though the dinner invites flood in and gold filigree skirts beckon. Candidly, I’ve embraced Santa Claus and Christmas more.
This year, I thought long and hard about how I would like to celebrate Diwali. What would feel authentic to me.
I decided to visit this sculpture that nests at the edge of Central Park an hour before my dinner and just look at it. With the quiet of just my thoughts. An hour before my New York City Friday night dinner, I would like to look up at “Ancestor,” and see what comes up.
Born and raised in the UK, artist Bharti Kher moved to India in the early 90s. She began collecting small clay figurines at the second hand markets in South India. One day, she had 500 dolls shipped to her studio. Many of them arrived broken. She set about repairing and remaking them.
“By physically repairing and breaking open these figures with my hands and fusing them together in new configurations, I was creating unique avatars….ideas of rupture and repair….I describe them as a “a family of in-betweeners” and as “the outsiders,” the self-created and the djinns that take shape at will, these are shapeshifters.”
“Ancestor” is a large scale representation of these clay figurines. “Her children are from everywhere, all countries, all religions, all genders, all peoples: she embodies multiculturalism, pluralism, and interconnectedness,” says Kher.
You are welcome to join me.