Jugaad / Of Intimacy and Love
Through collaborative interviews and photographic portraits I explore the traditions of intimacy between men in India, and the intersections of homosocial culture, friendship and love. How traditional fluidity of sexuality, gender and identity were impacted by colonial masculinities, the embrace of western culture and contemporary gender identity politics, is of particular interest.
In an interview I conducted with Pawan in Kolkata, he recalled: "I remember this one time ... I had this very strong attachment to somebody and we held hands in a very public place in Calcutta and it was the most ordinary thing to do, but for both of us it was very different. It was special, being visible to everyone … but hiding everything."
Historically, fluidity of gender and sexuality were widely accepted in South Asian cultures, creating unspoken, liberal spaces. In the current political climate these traditional spaces are shrinking dramatically, creating an urgent need to document the people whose way of life is being erased.
Concurrently, urban queer communities gain confidence with the help of models of identities from the West, even as society at-large continues to shame same sex-love, and colonial-era law continues to criminalize homosexuality.
To uncover the deeply personal experience of negotiating the social dynamics between tradition and progress in India today, I work with individuals from a broad range of identities, classes and backgrounds, ranging from scholar and activist, to journalist, student and day laborer.
As my collaborators' voices speak to the gains and losses of shifting definitions of 'acceptable' intimacies in India, the work reflects India’s critical moment at a crossroads between tradition and progress.
* Jugaad (Hindi/Punjabi/Urdu): make-do, a solution that bends the rules