Artist Zehra Rizvi shares the story behind her photography which explores what it’s like to be a young South Asian growing up in the West.
Hello, my name is Zehra Rizvi and I’m an artist whose work is currently being featured at Gunnersbury Park Museum as part of the ‘Being South Asian’ exhibition.
The BSA exhibition shows original work created by me alongside 7 other artists. Each work is connected by the sole fact that all artists are South Asian and that we can somehow all relate to each other’s work.
I am a multidisciplinary artist and image creator. My work varies from project to project, and I enjoy researching new concepts. I like combining both traditional and modern methods to create imagery that portrays a story. I enjoy taking the photos and editing them in a creative layout the most. My personal work, however, is inspired a lot by my culture, heritage, and my personal experiences.
My body of work is a series of photographs called ‘Neither East Nor West’. Neither East Nor West is a project which explores what it’s like to be a young South Asian growing up in the West. These photographs portray a blend between South Asian and Western fashion/ culture. Living in the West, I found it difficult to interact and relate to people because I felt different to them. Visiting family in the east was also challenging because I was sometimes too ‘western’ to understand somethings - the idea that we foreigners in both places. Living in the London, I met many people who have the same views and backgrounds as me and I wanted to bring that forward in this work. I wanted this project to show a bridge between the two worlds in a positive light.
I also created a zine that went hand in hand with the photographs that was made up of a mix of photos from my parent’s photo album and photographs I took inspired by it.
For this work, I showed the fusion between both cultures not only through clothes but also through small subtle details. For example, food, games, and the location of the shoot. We had the model eating foods and sweets from both sides of the world. We also had her playing with the ‘ludo’ board that is played mainly in South Asia that a lot of people grow up playing. These little details can prompt viewers to remember their own experiences and memories.
It was my first-time exhibiting work at a museum, and I had an amazing time. I got first-hand experience of framing and curating the work and got to see behind the scenes of what kind of work goes in before the exhibition is opened publicly. That made me appreciate and understand the process even more. I hadn’t realised how many people are involved when it comes to displaying work and I enjoyed every moment of it.
I hope whoever reads this also finds the exhibition enjoyable and inspiring. Please don’t forget to leave a message in our guest book.