Like Dadima Like Smriti


by Smriti Mehra

With this project, I embark upon remembrance, which is also the meaning of my name. I venture into this territory in an endeavour to not leave unnoticed the deep imprints of those closest to me. I acknowledge that my memories are fraught with biases, gaps and fictions blurring fact but what I attempt to stay true to is the emotion paired with the fragments of memory to form a newer understanding of my relationships. 

While sorting through my grandmother’s things after her death, I came across a trunk full of my grandfather’s clothes that had been put away after his sudden and early demise. I imagine she put off dealing with them as her emotional strength was required elsewhere.

I learnt a little bit about him – a man I never met. Going through his clothes made me wonder what kind of person he was. I don’t think I know anyone who has so many three-piece suits. In the pockets we found curious ephemera: a bow tie; labels of tailors; a ticket that could barely be deciphered; a note in the same predicament. The unfolding of the clothes in the video was in the exact order as they were stored with only one coat of Dadima’s surfacing at the very end. I know it belonged to her because it fit me.

Making this video was a way of recording those clothes before letting them go. With a childlike approach. Of playing house as an adult. Of employing imagination and embodiment. It is pure coincidence that in the still frame that Matt composed to shoot the video,  the trunks were placed right next to a painting I had made of a house when I was just seven years old. 

This project is about loss, letting go and preserving memory.

Smriti Mehra is a video artist from Bangalore in India and currently living in London and teaching at the Camberwell College of Arts. Interacting with Bangalore’s ever-changing, ever-growing residents with their multi- lingual, cultural, economic backgrounds she has become a mapmaker of sorts. Mapping the desires, hopes, needs, dreams and disparities of this city from her particular vantage point has been born out of a desire to establish reference points for her own personal memories. Her work deals with issues of labour, identity, memory and movement in the urban sphere. Her work has shown widely internationally.

Featured image: Smriti Mehra – still from the film