As a documentary, portrait and fine arts photographer, Kiran Ambwani is a visual storyteller who aims to “capture places, moments & experiences, and to visually share these instances, perspectives and stories” with her audiences. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic she started the 'Pandemic Stories' project, in solidarity with the Asian community.

 

Portraits of Asian-Canadian Creative Resilience during Lockdown

“Taken in the homes and studios of Canadians of Asian heritage involved in the artistic and cultural milieu, these 130 virtual portraits and intimate testimonials offer a glimpse into their lives and work during lockdown. Amidst the restrictions, cancellations, isolation, anti-Asian racism, and illness, there was also birth, self-care, kindness, creativity, resilience and hope, as we navigated through all this collectively.
 
At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020, I started connecting with other Asian-Canadian artists and cultural workers across Canada to learn about their experience of the pandemic, their challenges, their artistic shifts, their physical and mental health and more... While people of Asian descent have always fought racism in Canada, since the start of the pandemic there has been a distressing rise in anti-Asian sentiment. In light of the Covid-related racist incidents, I was curious about how people were coping and adapting their lives and artistic practice during this extraordinary period.
 
As a portrait photographer I missed the human interaction and rapport that I usually share with people. With social distancing rules, like many artists, I needed to adapt my usual practice in order to continue creating and sharing my art, and connecting with people. I started exploring a new way to engage with people by photographing them remotely using video-chat. Due to unstable internet connectivity and technological constraints, some of the resulting images are glitchy. Pixelated, blurry, noisy, often underexposed and blown out, these virtual portraits offer a unique digital aesthetic inherent to this process of image creation and capture. This intriguing, unconventional, approach allowed me to 'travel without moving' without the restrictions of time & space: visiting the mangroves of Bali before going to bed, waking up and watching the sunset in Thailand, spending the afternoon in the mountains of Alberta…

This digital showcase aims to highlight the contributions of the Asian Canadian artistic and cultural milieu, to create space for dialogue, connect the community, build solidarity and bring greater visibility to the participating artists and cultural workers. These snapshots represent a collective voice, a unique and intimate archive of this challenging time in our shared history.”

 

Discover more on 'Pandemic Stories' on Kiran’s website.
Click here to discover Kiran’s profile on Artasiam.

Kiran Ambwani

Kiran Ambwani, Ecliptic, 2007

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Kiran Ambwani, Ascension, 2007

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Kiran Ambwani, Celestial Gateway, 2007

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Kiran Ambwani, Window to the Universe, 2016

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Kiran Ambwani, Lovers at Ram Yantra, 2016

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Kiran Ambwani, Ram Yantra, 2016

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