Through considerations of consciousness, memory, and mortality, Neha Choksi centers her practice on the materialization of time, foregrounding temporality and transformation over the desire for permanence. Choksi’s work—in which performance-based video is primary, but which also includes photography, sculptures, and works on paper—explores the fragility of life, how we process loss, and the productive possibilities in confronting, head-on, manifestations of absence.
For Made in L.A. 2018, Choksi created the multichannel video installation Everything sunbright, which is the culmination of a series of works examining our relationship to the sun, divided into birth, life struggle, and death. The videos include footage from earlier works, such as The Sun’s Rehearsal, for which she created a billboard-size free-standing wall pasted over with eight layers of wallpaper depicting both real and imagined sunsets and with a large cutout void where the sun would have been. While the work was on view, dancer Alice Cummins slowly tore at the layers to suggest the loss and decay that time enacts, including the possibility of a “final fatal sunset,” as the artist describes it.
Choksi augments footage from these earlier projects with imagery of a solar observatory in India; the dry landscapes of the Los Angeles basin; acts of making in her studio; and a project recently shot in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Dhaka, the artist worked with eleven children, ranging in age from seven to twelve, who were paired with adult professionals—including a climate scientist, a folk singer, and a psychiatrist—and asked to make drawings of the sun. One channel includes the daily notations of the sun’s activity made by solar scientists in India during the forty weeks the artist was in her mother’s womb. Connecting solar cycles with the temporality of human life, the installation strikes a poetic tone that balances the optimism we feel with the sun’s arrival each day and the haunting sense of transience that accompanies the erasure and darkness we associate with the setting sun and, indeed, our own mortality.
Neha Choksi (b. 1973, Belleville, New Jersey) works in Inglewood, California, and Bombay, India. Choksi received her BA in art and Greek from University of California, Los Angeles, in 1997, and MA in classics from Columbia University, in 2000. She has exhibited and performed at Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2018, 2016); Manchester Art Gallery (2017); LAMOA at Occidental College, Los Angeles (2017); Commonwealth & Council, Los Angeles (2017); Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (2017); Project 88, Mumbai (2016, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2007); 20th Biennale of Sydney (2016); Hayward Gallery Project Space, London (2015); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2014); Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, California (2013); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, UK (2012); Shanghai Biennale (2012); and Asia Pacific Triennial 7, QAGOMA, Australia (2012), among others.