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BILLY DOSANJH [TRAVELLER, YOUR FOOTPRINTS]
23 Sep, 2022 - 7 Jan, 2023
Billy Dosanjh is an artist, filmmaker and story-teller whose practice pays tribute to every displaced person. Born and raised in the Black Country area of the West Midlands, he has built a body of work that explores the lives of South Asian empire workers who arrived in this blue-collar region in the last throes of its industrial might. Drawn from his lived experience and the stories recounted by his family and community, Dosanjh’s work documents and poetically interprets the incredible journeys of these marginalised individuals and the generations that followed them. In doing so, Dosanjh brings to the fore an important yet missing visual vernacular of a people and place.
The exhibition begins with Dosanjh’s seminal film, Year Zero: Black Country (2014), which transports the viewer to the 1960s as thousands of economic migrants from the former colonies travel to the industrial heartlands of England in search of jobs, fortune, and a new life. Comprised of archive materials and filmed scenes, Year Zero captures the psychology and sensations of this epic upheaval. Through the film, local anecdotes, characters and stories emerge which Dosanjh expands upon through the photo series, Exiles (2019 – 2022). These large-scale photographs appear as digitally manipulated images of miniature villages or maquettes, when in fact they are created by a laborious process involving sets, a cast of actors, costumes and theatrical lighting. Through the intriguing and uncanny, freeze-frame quality of Exiles, Dosanjh cleverly draws the viewers’ attention to a distinct context and character, presses ‘pause’ and invites you to peer into the protagonist’s soul.
Traversing through time, Dosanjh’s focus shifts to the next generation, in the newly commissioned film, Indi (2022). Set in the 1990’s Indi charts the world of emigre mother, Sheeru, and her British born, teenage son, Indi, who dreams of playing football for England. The work questions how life choices are shaped by your environment, and addresses the complexities of living across opposing cultures, traditions and identities.
Indi (2022): commissioned by FLAMIN Productions through Film London Artists’ Moving Image Network and New Art Exchange. With funding from Arts Council, England.
BILLY DOSANJH IN CONVERSATION WITH MELANIE KIDD | 4 November 2022
INDI – TRAILER | BILLY DOSANJH (2022)