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STATEMENT

AN INDO-ANGLIAN / ANGLO-INDIAN CONVERSATION
Stephanie Douet with Roshan Chhabria
AN INDO-ANGLIAN / ANGLO-INDIAN CONVERSATION
Stephanie Douet with Roshan Chhabria

Since coming back from a trip to India in 2016 Stephanie Douet had been looking for an Indian artist who was interested in the British Raj, and could explain to her how contemporary Indians felt about their relationship with historic and modern Britain. She started following Roshan Chhabria on Instagram this April, attracted by his original and lively style, empathy and wit. Her earnest quest slipped out of her grasp when she realised that Chhabria was not enormously interested in the Raj, yet somehow the two artists have developed a way of working together via Instagram that has become exciting and meaningful for them both.

At first the artists got to know each other - comparing notes on differences and likenesses their lives, art worlds, education, attitudes and eventually talked of how they could working together. This presented many obstacles, until it occurred to them that by sending images to and fro they could work together in the virtual world. Chhabria would send Douet an image, she would work on it, return it, and so on to and fro. Her studio wall was the location for their experiments, with prints, pages torn from books, real objects and photos succeeding each other in an on-going palimpsest.

For Douet, her discoveries about the British in India have meant readjusting her understanding of her country’s story. Using the prism of a set of 16 sepia photos of political agents from the Udaipur Palace collection she has explored history, cultural studies, politics, anthropology and art to understand Britain’s relationship with India. Chhabria’s interest is in now, in observed middle-class Indian life, family situations and aspirations. The theme of doubleness runs through the work; then and now, here and there, him and her, us and them.

The formal layout of the Instagram chat, with its circles, boxes and emojis is constantly played with, with images of their ideas and writing appearing in the context of Douet’s studio wall only to be painted over the next day. The viewer gets a sense of the flow and digressions of their chat, displayed almost like a musical score, a mind map or a Bollywood poster, several ideas appearing concurrently in space. In practical terms, Douet keeps a photographic diary as an ongoing record of the project’s evolution; segments can be printed out for exhibition, or re-worked in the continuous process.