Ashok Vish
Expanded-Resident@Lichtenberg Studios

Ashok Vish’s practice draws from his training as a filmmaker and interests in other aspects of image-making such as video and photography.

Ashok Vish © Ashok Vish His work has been an examination of the complexities of human identity, especially questioned identities against the larger context of our society. Following a research-based practice, other ideas of sexual identity, gender roles and social pressure are at the core of his interests. Vish places emphasis on exploring the associations between human emotions & adversity and their corresponding public and personal personas. This affords him the opportunity to investigate the relation between the imagery of fictional worlds and the conditions of reality, and sometimes merging both fiction and non-fiction with each other. His overriding objective for all of his projects has been to create narratives, whether linear or abstract, that, in turn, open up spaces for greater engagement between audience and imagery, between viewers and subjects, because doing so helps to bridge the seemingly wide chasms that separate “us” from “them”.

Vish’s films have screened in several film festivals such as the Chicago South Asian Film Festival, Chelsea Film Festival, New York Indian Film Festival, StarLite Film Festival, at the Anthology Film archives in New York City and the Full On Film festival at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda. His film ‘A Boy Called Boris’ was screened at 1Shanthi Road Studio/Gallery as part of a group exhibition titled ‘Much to say’, showcased along with paintings by visual artist Bhuvanesh Kumar. Apart from his films, Vish’s video art and photography has shown at galleries such as A.M (Art Multi-disciplines) Studio in Kolkata, Art Konsult in Delhi, Gallery Sumukha in Bangalore, Art Houz in Bangalore, Maximilians Forum in Munich. Vish was also selected for the 2018 'PEERS Share' programme organised by Khoj International Artists Association, New Delhi.

'I perceived parallels between photo and information sharing engaged in by gay men on online dating websites & apps as a means of identifying potential social and sexual contacts, and similar procedures utilised by the East German State Security Service - the Stasi - as a means of controlling, coercing, and oppressing queer individuals. What intrigues me the most is that both of them hinge on the creation of archives of sorts - collections of photographs, written records and even films used as handy references to identify individuals who possess or exhibit specific qualities. More than this, however, was the fact that the power of these two particular types of archives rests not on the active use of their content, but the threat suggested by the possession of these images or information, as a form of personal information.

Given their central role in the preservation of intellectual and cultural histories, we tend to think of archives as valuable resources for decoding and making sense of the past and situating current practices in an historical and cultural continuum. The two types of archives I investigated here, though, are less benign, given the uses to which they can be and have been put. 
  Ashok Vish_Reflection © Ashok Vish
Creating fictional narratives has formed the bulk of my artistic practice; and with this work, I perform this process on two levels: I formulate a set of fictional characters and, in turn, develop fictional narratives of record-keeping and other related actions to illuminate the disquieting correspondences that link the official archive of the totalitarian state to the private archive of the "sexual outlaw."

My work, the title of which comes from a previous citizen of East Germany, stating "The first duty of the citizen was to be inconspicuous" uses individual photos and information files to analyse the need for discretion, for privacy in contemporary India—a situation that clearly mirrors life in the GDR under the Stasi as the East German government's most visible and effective force of surveillance and repression—and at the same time, to examine the liberating potential of public disclosure as well, freeing the queer subject from the bonds of oppression and intimidation.' 

Ashok Vish presented The first duty... is to be inconspicuous on September 5, 2018 at Lichtenberg Studios Berlin.