Gauri Gill continues a practice of representing rural, decidedly marginalized communities, by taking us to a village in Maharashtra whose inhabitants pose in various scenes wearing masks of an indigenous craft tradition. A man with a cobra-head carefully weights out onions on scales in his small shop, as packets of shampoo, crisps, and chocolate roll out in garlands around him. A woman in a pistachio-green sari stands under a thatched awning wearing a dark elephant head, the scene dappled by the light caught between the roof's wooden logs. Gill's photographs are formally succinct - sharp, and clearly formed.
The masks are specific to the Konkan tribe of the Jawhar district where, as part of a yearly tradition of mythological reenactment, they customarily depict gods, demons, and figures from popular tales. For this ongoing series ‘Acts of Appearance’ (2015–ongoing) – a selection of which first made its debut at documenta 14 last year – Gill enlisted the help of a pair of local craftsmen to fashion masks with identities from the contemporary imagination instead, engaging the whole village to witness and participate in the work.
- Skye Arundhati Thomas