CHANIYA CHOLI

[SPRING '17]

Chaniya Choli: A traditional garment worn for dance and celebration, especially for a Gujarati dance festival during Navaratri called Garba.

In my parent's house there is an odd corner of space in their room that they converted into a cedar closet. This closet housed a growing collection of my mother's special occasion Indian garments that were both inherited and bought, along with a gradient of hundreds of matching bangles and stacks of clear boxes encasing her colorful and gaudy costume jewelry. I loved spending time in the closet looking at all the saccharine qualities of the colors and materials. I had never seen seed beads, sequins, mirrors, bells, and pom-poms used so earnestly in Western fashion. I was not allowed to touch these garments for fear that I would ruin the textures of the meticulous embroidery and silk, so much of my experience with cultural garments, my own culture, and by extension with technology became about denied access.

I think a lot about the dissonant connection between my Indian-American identity and my femininity. This work is a synthesis of not only these identities, but also their cultural codes. My critique of digital code and essentially digital pattern is that it has taken the craft and feminine labor out of ornamentation making them easy, cheap, and inherently one-dimensional. By linguistically redefining "digital" code with "social" or "cultural" code I use textures, tessellations, tiling, and color to embed visual depth. The flattening of these textures in Chaniya Choli is emulating this alienating experience.