Born in India Kambli migrated to the United States aged 18 following the death of both her parents.She took with her only one 45kg suitcase packing items and objects that had “ the ability to vividly conjure memories of the past” (www.Kambli). Her father was a keen amateur photographer and as a reluctant but frequently photographed subject she describes feeling “as a child I was certain that being photographed by my father was my punishment” (B+W p.g 22). Kambli herself prefers to use self-portaiture and photograph artefacts to investigate the themes of memory and loss.
The Suitcase Series
Sparse constructed images of suitcases and their contents enabled Kambli to investigate the memory of her migration and re-consider her choice of objects that travelled with her to a new life. The self contained individually themed photographs are all taken against a black background that additionally form a coherent set due to Kambli’s conceptual approach. Through her photography Kambli attempts to understand and create memories , the suitcases and their contents personify her journey from past to present.
Kambli’s reconstructed family images are intriguing and personal. Losing her parents at such a young age “her images are a response to their loss and her subsequent migration to America” (B+W p.g 22) . Memories of a photograph mutilated by her mother , who cut her own face out of the image but not those of her children, stirred emotions , that as a child , she found difficult to interpret. She continues to try to make sense of “marred artefacts” (B+W p.g 23) by creating her own impaired images using original family photographs. The scanned images are cut or pierced , or a still life is created scattering materials such as rice on top of the original image then reworked in Photoshop. Mirroring her mother’s actions Kambli uses her technique “to modify the stories they tell” (www.Kambli) .
Color Falls Down
Altered family photographs , self portraiture , and personal objects , “reveal the correlations between generations , cultures and memory” (www.Kambli) .Kambli explores and attempts to come to terms with her individual past , divided ethnic identity and impermanence. The images are rather beautiful to look at , each showing a connection between past and present that unite the generations.
Burnstine , S. (2015) American Connection Black + White Photography (Issue 174) 22-23