My daydreaming was facilitated by grandmother who suggested a new profession to me every week

I was thinking about what my grandmother and I have in common. I was also thinking about what makes me admire her as much as I do. What makes us collaborate almost without effort? Where is this spirit to build something unknown and undefined together coming from? When did it all start?

I usually say that the project started six years ago when my grandmother Indri told me that she wishes to be an actor. I told her that I wanted to be a photographer/ film-maker/director. We initiated a process of collaboration which is ongoing. The project, simply titled ‘Indri', manifests itself through photo and video performances.

But perhaps this collaboration began in my childhood. Daydreaming hours were often facilitated by a grandmother who had a new profession to suggest to me every week. Between the age of three and 12, I've been a flight attendant, a pilot, a schoolteacher, actor, eye doctor, photographer, the prime minister, film-maker, architect, environmental activist, fashion designer, musician, everything and anything I was told I could be. The irrational daydreaming-believing lends itself to our exchange. I think we live in the fiction we build.

In our project, she's been a forest fairy in Botanical Gardens, Calcutta. She's been the queen at Castle Solitude in Germany. She's been the dancing spirit of a tree in a garden in Burma. She's worn a pair of jeans and let her hair down because she always wanted to but stopped herself from doing so.

Indri and I were invited to Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany for a two-month artist in residency programme where we spent focussed studio time. We do have a youtube show featuring Indri as “Ms. Pickles” coming up later this year.

Daydreaming is urgent. A song by Cat Stevens reminds me of Indri. “If you want to sing out, sing out. If you want to be free, be free. There's a million things to be. You know that there are. You can do what you want. The opportunity is on. And if you find a new way, you can do it today. You can make it all true. And you can make it undo...”

(Jasmeen Patheja is an artist with a focus on community and public arts practice, performance and photography. She also facilitates Blank Noise ( and Action Heroes-(volunteer) led initiative triggering public dialogue on street sexual harassment.)


Soap BoxJanuary 13, 2011