In The Americans, Gauri Gill–who was born in India–takes the United States of America as her subject, focusing on South Asian communities within a pre- and post- 9/11 landscape. Her chosen title harkens back to the influential 1958 publication by prominent Swiss-born photographer Robert Frank. Similar to Frank, Gill documents tensions between the optimism of the time and the realities of class, race, and cultural difference. Her images offer an intimate look into her subject’s day-to-day lives and domestic spaces.
By photographing these diverse communities, Gill questions existing stereotypes and brings a greater understanding to the immigrant experience in the USA. She provides viewers with an opportunity to relate to her subjects on a common level, beyond the culturally specific. At the same time, her photographs reflect the roots of her subjects, who retain traditional signifiers of South Asian identity while merging within a larger American plurality. The resulting colour photographs are humorous, poignant, ironic, and beguiling. The Americans is as much a portrait of the individual as it is a reflection of the society in which they live.
Co-presented by SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre), Culture Division, City of Mississauga and the Mississauga Central Library.