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Home > Relationships> It's Complicated > Into the artist's studio: For Baaraan Ijlal, the self is the studio

Into the artist's studio: For Baaraan Ijlal, the self is the studio

In the Lounge Art Special, we offer a peek into the studios of leading contemporary artists. Ijlal oscillates between painting large canvases and working as a sound installation artist

Baaraan Ijlal in her studio.
Baaraan Ijlal in her studio. (Image courtesy The Artist's Studio)

"I feel the studio for me is wherever I am,” Baaraan Ijlal, 46, says over the phone from her home in Delhi. She pauses, as if to gather her thoughts: “A studio space for me has become myself only now.” The statement seems apt coming from an artist who believes that art is an extension of the self and especially the body, which carries both memories and scars.

Born and raised in Bhopal, Ijlal is primarily self-taught and oscillates between painting large canvases informed by miniature tradition and oral testimonies (for which she requires a studio) and working as a sound installation artist, where she deploys her persuasive skills to get rank strangers into sharing their personal stories (most of which takes place outside the studio).

“My work is about listening and creating spaces for mutual dialogue,” Ijlal says. Since 2018, she has used her ongoing sound project Change Room Archives to document thousands of diverse voices, particularly those of women, queer and transgender individuals. In Change Room Archives, she offers participants not only a platform but total freedom to share fearlessly and anonymously. In her interactions with people from different walks of life, she has noticed something in common—nearly everyone starts telling their stories from the beginning. “Childhood trauma is so unresolved for everybody. When a 50-year-old mother starts talking about memories of the past, you can see the raw vulnerability on her face. Suddenly, this woman has become a six-year-old all over again,” says Ijlal, who grew up hearing heartbreaking tales about the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984.

In Change Room Archives, Ijlal steps into the role of “first witness”, as long-buried memories are at last set free and reach a sort of closure for the first time. She hopes that this project will lead to collective healing.

Also read: Into the artist's studio: For Valay Gada, gardening and art have become intertwined

 

 

 

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