penciled in and eager, with my head in the sand

Chaitanyaa Sachdeva

Created and displayed on the stolen lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, and səlilwətaɬ Nations.

“penciled in and eager, with my head in the sand” is a performance painting (2022-2024) with acrylic, watercolour, ink, charcoal, colour pencil, chalk, oil pastel, graphite, rain and dirt all layered as gesture drawings on pieces of un-stretched canvas. This work contemplates migrant relations with unsurrendered Indigenous land through the perspective of an ever-changing politicised body that is immobilised by the colonial structure of borders.

Trying to find catharsis from the pervasive, repetitive, and brutal nature of racial trauma- I made these pieces of canvas my companions and started to document my walks in so called Vancouver, Canada and Delhi, India through sensory maps and gesture drawings.

With this; memory, spirit, and chronic pain became part of the material.

What are the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual conditions of being visibly brown, queer across these locations? This work is an unraveling of the physical form, as I try to find ways to remember and recognise the world around myself. To contend with my process is to consider that migration is almost entirely the result of political and economic processes bound with imperial conquest and capitalist globalisation.

My work recalls Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire; “The pursuit of full humanity, however, cannot be carried out in isolation or individualism, but only in fellowship and solidarity”. If hope is a responsibility of the oppressed, then my work considers itself to be hopeful, imaginative, and never alone.
By creating a dialogue between painting and writing, my work acknowledges the gravity of storytelling. As a descendant of survivors of the India Pakistan partition in 1947, my work reflects the untold histories of my lineage, by ritualising the practice of remembering, yearning, forgetting. As of now, during India’s fall into far-right hindutva fascism, I am re-thinking the meaning of freedom at the expense of ethnic and religious minorities. How can I honour the resilience of my ancestors with responsibility, as a scheduled caste migrant in the imperial core of the world?

I have spent all my time lost in the effort of translation, here lay the dialects of my heart for your consumption.

Chaitanyaa Sachdeva