Sunil Shah is an artist, curator and writer working in England.
Episode 91: I know Sunil Shah through a few different means. First and foremost, he and I work on American Suburb X together, but I think of Sunil first in terms of his research before our editing. It has been a pleasure to watch his practice unfold over the past years. He has been working tirelessly on his vision and has advanced his methodology an impressive amount in the short time that I have been fortunate enough to know him.
Sunil’s work is complicated. Part of it involves archival material from his family, but it extends from there to incorporate images and objects that deal with immigration and identity. It does not stop there. Within his research Sunil also extends his interrogations to consider the hierarchy of image production, memory and how art functions on a universal level. There are many questions within his the work that point to social and political conceptual drives.
In our conversation, we speak about Sunil’s history, his growing up in Britain as an immigrant and how the various interpretations and conflicts of personal identity become a major concern within his work. We spoke about Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11 and the profound influence of that global art moment. We speak a little bit about photography and the archival impulse as it relates to family, but also history in general. With Sunil, there are many layers to how he approaches the medium both in familiarity and skepticism. His observations are spot on and he is grounded and without pretense.
Finally, Sunil was able to humour my interests in speaking about the colonial nature of the camera and a what the current movements and trends are in questioning and holding responsible museum collections in an age where we are re-examining the canon of assumed knowledge about art outside of the Western hegemonic history. I am grateful for his insight and his patience both in this episode and in our professional life. Please tune in and have a listen. The episode is familiar without being aimless and I am indebted to Sunil for his time and friendship.