Hearts on Fire

by Sunhil Sippy

Hearts on Fire

Hearts on Fire presents works by thirteen artists on the nature of Parsi identity, exploring the diverse ways in which the Parsi community has been represented across visual media. It offers a timely visual overview of the community, with specific emphasis on contemporary images amidst shifting narratives of memory and belonging.
The Parsi community has had a long and vibrant tradition of photographic engagement. Its distinctive visual culture finds natural expression in the baugs, agiary, domestic spheres and the symbolic landscape of Udvada. Images of Parsi individuals offer a window onto a world that reveres family ties and holds close the memories of departed souls through framed photographs and family albums. Yet, rather than merely embodiments of the past, the works exhibited here, by contrast, emphasise the itinerancy of photographs and their accrual of meaning across space and time.
Photographs act as a performative space for transformation and play. Levity is particularly apt for Parsis, whose famed humour can be seen in natak, where self-representation on the proscenium recalls their visibility in front of the camera. Young Parsis today are discovering avenues to reinvent themselves via ludic imagery on social media, such as memes and reels that critically traverse social, linguistic and geographical borders.
Advancing this concept of “play”, the exhibited works disrupt traditional binaries of the past and the future, history and the contemporary, instead defining new contours of Parsi identity. Taking Roland Barthes’ suggestion that cameras are “clocks for seeing” and T.S. Eliot’s poem as points of departure, this exhibition intentionally juxtaposes traditional portraits with contemporary photographs to propose an understanding of “Parsiness” free from simplistic, temporal categorisation. Rejecting the notion of a singular Parsi identity, then, the works present myriad forms rife with complexities.
We warmly invite viewers to engage with and reflect on Parsi photographic practice through the kaleidoscopic lens of the past, present and future. Our playful jumbling also underpins the selection to include both Parsi and non-Parsi artists from diverse backgrounds in the show, and the incorporation of documentary photography, film, cinematography, fashion and design. Ranging from staged portraits to candid moments and cinematic stylisation, the distinct methodologies and backgrounds of the artists themselves offer a powerful lens for observing Parsi identity. The choice of Chemould/Colaba as venue further speaks to the desire to provide a platform for younger artists, and shift the narrative from curation to collaboration.
With this exhibition, we cast identity as unfinished and emergent, with photographs providing a space for unfolding possibilities.
-Sarica Robyn Balsari

Hearts on Fire is opening tomorrow at Chemould Colaba and will be on till the 15th of October, 2022. 

Hearts on Fire Group Therapy By Avinash Jai Singh

Group Therapy By Avinash Jai Singh