Monday, March 7, 2011

Feminine Syntax : Personal Biographies - Lee Hayan

Jottings from an invisible diary

In the middle of a fast passing day, standing and trying to catch the stories from here and there, becomes the fascination that feeds my imagination. School girls enjoying the end of school with ribbons hanging from their hair, a father and son going somewhere on a cycle, candies and roadside goodies hanging in laris on the street, people sipping an ardhi chai and sharing a cigarette between friends; all become subjects to be observed.

Without catching the spoken word or desiring to intentionally eavesdrop; the facial expressions, gestures and intonations suddenly place me into an orbit of belonging with them, engaging me to become a participant as an observer within their lives. Unrecognizable languages often become the barrier; yet it strangely does not become a factor of disconnect to the aspect of my belonging. Like solving a riddle; deciphering people’s expressions and observing minutely allows me to unintentionally fall into recollections and reminiscences. Memory meets with memory and moves further away from its initial moorings, making a space for alternative conjecture and new stories.

When I first arrived in India five years ago, I used to faithfully write a diary. I have however discontinued this practice for quite a while now. It is difficult to recall the memories of which there are no records; and though I promised myself on many occasions that I would return to this daily ritual, I finally relinquished the idea of reclaiming this methodology, realizing that it was the visual spaces of memory that conjured most vividly for me.

Between the passing of time and forgotten memories, and in an attempt to hold the reminiscences; I started these works. I wanted to keep the small and precious memories that have been buried in the course of my personal history alive. These works act as the catalyst of conveying; like a letter or a secret message to tell stories of another’s loved ones, or as threads of auto-biographical occurrences.

Like collecting sea-shells or drawing faces on the pebbles found in small streams, or my mother's music box melody; all these and other such incidental recollections are precious personal events that lie buried deep inside my psyche. These mentally archived images are retrieved, so that they then mingle with my present consciousness, to create significant new histories that alter and shift with the context of my own self-discoveries. Here there and everywhere lies a jigsaw puzzle world of fragments, memories, anecdotes and observations; and whether true or false, it ultimately delivers a world of reality for me.

Lee Hayan


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