Yashna Kaul

Yashna Kaul is interested in the photograph as an object and its evolving guises in the digital age.

Her introduction to photography as a medium was through the archives of her family and this has informed her approach towards photography and her interest in the physicality of photographs. Her work, a response to the writings of scholars, employs a range of analog techniques and digital tools which allow her to explore new approaches of inquiry into the authenticity and materiality of photographs. Yashna received her BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts in 2018 and is based in India.

The Image World

A photograph is too many things. Is it a reminder of the sitter or the one whose memory it belongs to? On the day of my grandfather’s funeral, his eldest daughter had hesitated before taking one last photograph of him. I wondered what that image meant.

Months earlier, his youngest had traveled to India to visit Nanaji who was unable to recognize her. To break the silence, we had spoken about seva – the Sikh teaching of selfless servitude; about how in the family we have the privilege to practice seva too – first the parents for their children and then again the other way.

I couldn’t serve my father in his final days, but I attend to him now through his photographs. The ongoing project is my seva for my father. Traces of memories he lost to Alzheimer’s were found compressed in the pages of tucked away albums. Some are revived in seconds, now unfolding endlessly on screens. Others are recovered only as half-remembered dreams – fragmented, fleeting, yet eager to be reconstructed.

The project is also a meditation on the shifting nature of photography and record keeping; and contemplation on the concepts of memory, family, mourning, melancholia, and the many things in between.

As Susan Sontag has noted, “In the real world, something is happening and no one knows what is going to happen. In the image world, it has happened, and it will forever happen in that way.”

To view more of Yashna Kaul’s work please visit her website.