She Left Only To Come Back (2019) is an exploration of femininity, motherhood, inter-generational trauma and loss set against a backdrop of familial obligation and self-sacrifice.
The inspiration for this series was derived from the fictional works of Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anita Rau Badami, Gurjinder Basran, and Anosh Irani: stories stitched together like constellations in which tragedy is destiny, a foregone conclusion and, indeed, a direct consequence of being born female. But like distant stars in the night sky, women themselves shine amidst the crushing darkness that threatens their very existence. Theirs are ultimately stories of resistance and resilience.
I set out to continue a conversation about gender-based violence and oppression that underscores much of my work with these vignettes. Because female suffering – and the lack of autonomy women have over their own lives and bodies – remains so commonplace, it is signified by mundane scenes and everyday objects scattered throughout the series.
I confront themes of bleakness, despair and ugliness with their dissonant opposites: brightness, hope and beauty. In many ways a series of contradictions, She left only to come back is also equal parts critical reflection and celebration of my South Asian heritage. This diasporic relationship wherein I am at once insider and outsider creates a tension that I constantly seek to resolve in my work.