Shalini Gidoomal

Kenya - Visual Arts

Shalini Gidoomal

Shalini Gidoomal

  • AGE: 52
  • COUNTRY of residence: Kenya
  • CITY: Nairobi
  • ARTISTIC DISCIPLINE : Writing / Therapeutic creativity
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The artist

A few words about your artistic journey

I am a writer, occasional photographer, traveller and sense seeker, My work has taken me globally through newspapers, story anthologies, festival curation, leatherwork, collaborative design. I worked on, and founded, numerous writers/film and cultural festivals. Artistic expression exists in my world in many modalities, but writing and theraputic creativity are most prominent.

How long have you been an artist?

I have been writing and creating for most of my life, but in a more professional capacity for the past 30 years.

Why did you apply for this grant? How will the grant support you?

I want to deeply explore my intersecting interests of creativity, intuitution, and collective creation. Artists embody, often in uncomfortable ways, truths, direction, daring.

I have been dancing at the edges of the intersection of creatvity, blocks, panic and release through the theraputic process. The grant will allow me space to do go further into that exploration with the help also of a bit of science.

What are your concrete artistic objectives after this residency?

Hopefully to develop and expand this experiment and travel further down the road of therapeutic creativity and brainplay, as a way to internally and externally access visions for the future.

Her residency

What did you achieve during this creative residency? What is the result (created work)? Who was involved in the creation process?

I worked in several ways to put together a small film exploring how artists, operating in a right brain capacity, might view the pandemic and put forward lessons and ideas to take us into the future. To do that, I interviewed 7 different people (and used 6 of the interviews), worked on part of a collage myself, wrote the small script for the film and taught myself to digitally edit. The result is a 9-minute piece of film, and a rather large 2m x 2.5m collage.

How do you think these activities contribute to a reflection on today’s world, in relation to the COVID-19 crisis, and/or on the shaping of the future?

The entire structure looked at how the COVID-19 shutdown had affected lives, mostly personally, but also in a more general context. In having this time to reflect, what I was struck by in the interviews was how almost everyone older has used the time to return to more traditional activities, and had used their art, or other very grounding activities (gardening, family time), to help formulate some very direct shift in perspective and action. The lockdown, in particular, has changed people and how they behaved. Most striking was Ade Adekola’s shift to a more non-transactional way of interacting, but a gentle kindness was evident all round. Only the younger interviewees were more strident, and angrier at the mess they have inherited, and the expectation that it’s up to them to mobilise to fix it. There is a palpable sense of overwhelm in the discussions with younger members (although I only used one interview as the other never sent through her collage layout).

I was struck by the level of activity this time has engendered, and how much these experiences resonated with mine. The use of creativity (with the artists I interviewed, but also myself in undertaking this project), as a tool of healing and artistic flight was evident. I felt it fulfilled my intuition that creators of all sorts are necessary to show the way (and also were the fallback for millions in lockdown who (re)turned to books, music, film to fill their days).

How did you feel during the residency? And at the end of it?

In the beginning I felt that I had been far too ambitious, particularly as I didnt know how to edit, and the whole idea was conceived via online interviews that needed to be put together. I took the “longest journey begins with the first step” approach and just began with my strengths – first a list of right brain questions (thrown away by the third interview), and then a scout for suitable interviewees for the project. I came back to the collage often for calm and perspective. And I kept interviewing, while waiting for some sort of story to emerge from the process. Not knowing was pretty hard. Having faith that something coherent would emerge was the greatest challenge.

Another difficulty was the edit. I bought some software and began watching youtube videos to teach myself how to use it. That has been the most fun and challenging part of the whole experience – something absolutely new for me, and I have loved it. I can edit ! I have been wanting to learn for 25 years !

I have to say that I am happy with the work. There are so many ways this could have gone, and I still have so much good material that I could use, but I feel satisfied with the edit I acheived – both in the context of the content, and in learning technical skills in the compilation of the work. I can also feel a callling to continue and that this whole structural approach can take on new meaning – I am waiting for more clarity to arrive on how to move with it next.