Gauri Gill first trained at Delhi College of Art in India, and then received a BFA in Photography from Parsons School of Design and an MFA in Art from Stanford. Much of her work focuses on displaced communities and the ways in which they attempt to hold on to identities that are under threat of being erased by structures and forces beyond their control.
The photographs in Gill’s Americans series take her viewers on an intimate journey into the lives of the Indian-Americans whom she encountered on her own journey across the country. In these images, immigrants are seen attempting to come to grip with the realities of their new lives—working at menial jobs at a motel in Nashville or burying a parent—while at the same time maintaining relationships, however tenuous, with their homeland by participating in a Bhangra competition or praying in a convention hall.
The anthropologist and art historian Christopher Pinney succinctly analyzes the impact of Gill’s series and the questions it raises:
Does she intend to present Indo-Americans as part of a liberating counter-culture? Is she mounting a critique in part of a US consumerist dream that fails to deliver for most Indian-Americans? This seems implicit in a number of powerful images that take the viewer very close to the quotidian routines of low-paid manual work. But is she also mounting a critique from within of aspects of the Indic tradition, of targets such as religious orthodoxy, Bollywood and patriarchy? … Such ambivalence, of course – and the power it gives the viewer to come to their own conclusions - is a considerable part of the power that Gauri Gill’s project offers. (www.gaurigill.com).
Image: Gauri Gill. Born in Chandigarh, India, Born 1970. Lives and works in New Delhi. Taxi driver Prem Kumar Walekar of Olney was shot dead at a gas station in Rockville, Maryland by a sniper. Seen at right is his son, 2002. Smith College Museum of Art. Purchased with the Josephine A. Stein, class of 1927, Fund in honor of the class of 1927. ©2016 Gauri Gill