Why Divya Mehra didn't want In the Making to shoot footage of the Taj Mahal
Before the team travelled to India to film with her, she had one very important request
Divya Mehra's work is both hilarious and heartbreaking. The Winnipeg-based artist works in video, sculpture, installation and text to tackle the constructs of diversity, colonialism and the impacts of racism. After being nominated for the Sobey Award (Canada's largest contemporary art prize) last year, her star is on the rise.
An artist of the Indian diaspora, Mehra pushes back on stereotypical definitions of who she is and what her work symbolizes.
In her own words: "How can I have a conversation about something as complex as race and representation? If you...joke about it, I think it creates a space for a lot of people to enter and then think about what they're laughing at."
In this clip from In the Making, she explains why she requested that the production team of the show not shoot the Taj Mahal while filming in India.
Watch the video:
For Mehra the Taj Mahal is many things. "When I think of the Taj Mahal...it's a stunning piece of architecture, it's a sacred space, it's a mausoleum. It's also a space that thousands of tourists go to every day and pose in a variety of different ways."
"It becomes a backdrop for what is South Asian culture so that it looks like you're the dominant object in it."
Mehra says she doesn't want to add to this imagery. "And we also want people to think about how that imagery functions — what it represents, who it's speaking to and why it exists in the way that it does."
"It'll be really wonderful to be in that space and then not look at the thing that everybody is talking about."
Stream Divya Mehra's full episode of In the Making now or watch it this Friday at 8:30pm (9pm NT) on CBC TV and see her bouncy castle version of the Taj Mahal.
What is In the Making?
In the Making is an immersive journey inside the creative process. The documentary series follows host Sean O'Neill across the country and around the world alongside some of Canada's leading artists as they bring new work to life and face pivotal moments of risk and reward. All eight episodes are available to stream online now, with individual episodes broadcasting weekly each Friday at 8:30pm (9pm NT) on CBC.
Each episode follows an artist from across the creative spectrum — visual art, film, music, dance, theatre — with a unique approach to art-making and something to say about the world. Sean visits artists at home, in studio, backstage, and in the field, giving viewers rare access to intimate creative spaces and inspiring moments of realization.
Watch the trailer:
Stream every episode of In the Making now, or watch Friday at 8:30pm (9pm NT) on CBC TV.