Inspired by the lives of her paternal grandparents, Surinder (‘Budimom’) and Karamjit (‘Baba Ji’), Navi’s work intimately and playfully documents themes of domestic, cultural, and spiritual significance. She traces interpersonal dialogues and daily activities through digital photography, film, and installation, demonstrating the abounding resilience of first-generation immigrants, the wonders of the everyday, and the compelling expressions of the Sikh Dharam. Thus, Navi’s artistic process doubles as a method of self-inquiry, facilitating investigations into the physical and intangible dimensions of her cultural heritage.
Navi is currently researching and documenting the lives of the South Asian communities who have settled and work in the rural West Midlands for a photographic series commissioned by GRAIN Projects. She has exhibited her work across the UK and overseas, including Reminders Photography Stronghold, Coventry Biennial, Manchester Contemporary, Recent Activity, ORT Gallery and Gallery Celine. Upcoming shows include a solo exhibition at New Art Exchange and group exhibitions at Grand Union Gallery, Herbert Art Gallery & Museum and Moseley Road Baths.
Navi is also a qualified arts educator, formally teaching at a Handsworth-based secondary school and facilitates workshops in artist-led and museum spaces.
Written by Harr-Joht Takhar
I was interested to share Navi Kaur’s work for Recipes For Resistance exhibition due to my admiration and respect for Navi’s choice to work so intimately with her grandparents in situating everyday domestic life. These open up to wider issues regarding migration/immigration, identity, famililial and relational connectivity, community, growth, nurture and documentation of memory. Within this exploration it also inevitably brings in political questions of seperation, racism and religion and culture, aswell as gender, un/belonging and ageism.
As someone who is South Asian and socialised within Sikhi culture I feel a resonance and draw to Navi’s work but I simultaneously recognise that this also comes from a lack or missing pieces, since I do not have/ did not grow up with Grandparents and with a further disconnection to relatives derived from being trans and queer which caused cultural dissonance. I’m am also trans~queer ageing and questioning what age means for me in my cultural contexts. This creates a specific desire to see these narratives and experiences as outlined in Navi’s photographic, video and publication works which are also extremely accessible as art works and beyond. They ‘speak’ of/to the everyday whilst using everyday accessible mediums to communicate content to both art/non art audiences. My specific life experiences draw me to Navi’s work but over the years through conversations, I have ascertained that there is a distinctive lack of art, but also general discussion and interaction regarding cross~generational exchange and learning, for various reasons such as ageism and migrant struggles. This, I believe, means Navi’s work will appeal to a variety of audiences who are affected by these issues, whether they realise it or not, yet. I do not think Navi’s work is heavily discoursed, it fluctuates between simplicity of everyday life and the wider complexity of detail and issues it raises, and this I feel allows it to appeal to a multitude of people, offering various entry points and possibilities of/for digestion.
Navi’s work is part of Recipes For Resistance exhibition at Ort Gallery. Photographic and video works will be shared in the exhibition 24 Oct ~ 28 Nov at Ort Gallery, Birmingham. www.ortgallery.co.uk/exhibitions/recipes-for-resistance/. You can also keep up to date with Navi’s work directly on her website www.navikaur.com