hyphen-ated

a 3-piece projection installation

original show

april 17-21, 2017

ruffin hall

university of virginia

charlottesville, va

artist's statement

hyphen-ated uses an auto-ethnographic lens to explore what it means to be a “third culture kid.” As an Indian-American, I am one of millions of third culture kids: those who are constantly navigating between two or more cultures, those who never quite know the answer to “where are you from?” My work takes shape from this space, investigating the struggle for and against assimilation through three projection pieces: white, unmasking, and color.


white is an awakening, a gasp for air at the surface after having been submerged too long. It’s an epiphanic moment of emergence from the habit of white-washing, hegemonic worship, and false politeness. It’s a step one: a realization of the never-ending push and pull forces between thoughtless assimilation and thoughtful fusion.


unmasking is a glimmer, a taste of the light peeking into the cave. It’s a reclamation of and a reconnection with cultural limbo. Here, abstract footage of sari fabric is projected onto a life-size 3D print of my face.


color is an exultation, a burst of vitality, a “finally, life!” Colored powder from the Indian festival of holi brings a moment of exuberance. At last, after emerging from whiteness, one can play in color.


The “third culture” is a fringe where more and more people are raised as global mobility continues its upward climb. In the midst of this trend, hyphen-ated seeks to challenge viewers to create a space for themselves rather than submerging themselves in whatever already exists.

watch a documentation of the installation below: