Ashima Yadava: The Front Yard
When encountering the website of artist Ashima Yadava, instead of describing her work as portfolios, she uses the word “stories”- an apt description of her photographic practice. The work featured today is the result of that period of time in 2020 when we were rediscovering home and neighborhood while self-quarantining. Yavada went beyond just photographing family and neighbors, she made then collaborators in her art making. After each portrait session, she would give the prints to the participants and encourage them to embellish and activate the image in a new way. The result is filled with whimsy and personality, but also a wonderful example of the subject having a say in the final outcome.
Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Ashima Yadava believes in art as a means to social activism and reform. With the camera as her conduit, her work is rooted in documentary practice with a keen focus on issues of gender equality, race, and social justice.
Ashima works in digital and analog methods including medium, and 4×5 large format. Ashima Yadava is a Director’s Fellow from the International Center of Photography, New York.
Follow Ashima Yavada on Instagram: @indigonyx
The Front Yard
The front yard is as much a metaphor as it is a space. Homes reflect the material successes of their inhabitants, their aesthetic tastes, and concrete the ties that bind family, lovers, and friends. When the shelter-in-place order was announced in March and time came to a proverbial standstill, I turned to my community to make portraits of people in their front yards.
The slow pace of using both digital and analog large format cameras, simultaneously, gave me time to reflect on my role as a photographer. I decided to disrupt the usual one-sided gaze so problematic in documentary photography by opening up the process to collaboration. Making large format black and white prints, I invited these families to color or embellish them however they liked. While one set of images are my observations — revealing tension, guardedness, and at times a reflective silence. The other set inverts the process, where people draw their imagination onto the photographs and coloring how they want it to be seen. It is a more in-depth conversation of the perceived realities and how easy it is to break barriers of judgment by opening our worlds to each other. While humanity is fighting a global disease — with isolation and distrust, perhaps the antidote is in the collaborative sowing of seeds that represent, affirm, and bind us all.
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