Ghar - Anu Kumar
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Ideas around place and identity have never been unequivocal for Anu Kumar. When the young Melbourne-based photographer returned to to her birthplace of Kavi Nagar, India, for the first time since childhood at age twenty-one, she felt at sea. ‘I remember a feeling of discomfort, of not knowing my place or who I was in that context,’ she says. ‘I began taking photos as an exercise in learning how to be Indian.’
The term Ghar, meaning ‘home’ in Hindi, doubles as the title of this, her debut book, and the broader outcome of her pursuit – one that is as much a new beginning as it is a homecoming. Shooting over a period of five years on a medium format camera, Kumar’s soft gaze meanders between the rooms and courtyards of the family home in Kavi Nagar, and out onto the neighbouring streets, sketching out the symbolic and aesthetic markers of a personal and cultural heritage. Formal portraits of her grandmother, aunts and uncles, echoing the traditional family album, give way to intimate scenes of daily tasks and quiet idleness – a thorough visual record to preserve intergenerational gestures and familial rituals that may otherwise linger in the undocumented everyday.