Catalogue text, 'Subcontingent ' Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin
Artist name: Shilpa
Sir J J School of
Did you study in the same language you grew up in?
While growing up, Hindi was spoken at home and English was the only language permitted at school. Hindi and Marathi were allowed only in the respective language classes.
What relationship does your language have with your identity?
As it would be, language
has to do with the residues from the past slipping into the present. Hindi
was the first language I heard, as it came with my grandparents when they
migrated into the young city of Bombay post independence, end of 1940’s.
But have become out
of practice for writing in any Hindi. And the Hindi which I often read,
is becoming Hindi written in English, in advertisements and film billboards
across the city. Even faster than the Hindi written in Hindi. But mind
you, an English person from England will not be able to speak the authentic
Hindi reading it in the most authentic English.
In a way I don’t speak my authentic mother tongue at all. It is a hybrid Hindi that I speak which my grandmother and aunts understand and sometime may speak too. With the younger people at home, it is Hinglish, sentences fused with both local Hindi and English words.
At work, it is primarily English within the art scene but in terms of production team it would also be Hindi. With the video editor it is English, with the programmer mostly Hindi and some English, with the carpenter and Janta Book Center shopkeeper it is Hindi. Art books, art openings, art conferences, magazines, newspapers, novels, city street signage, numbers, computer desktops, keyboards, as it is in this interview it is English. But then there are also other art openings in which where the language is Hindi and Marathi.