with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.
The grief is an ocean, no, the grief is Saturn, bobbing in the darkness, waiting to swallow the stars, with dirt between its rings, the residue of you. No, the grief is a house, a tower, a mansion, a palace for you made of what you gave and were given, a tribute to your love because you carried our love. The grief knows that we miss you so much the hurt could fill this planet and the planet could fill this urn, and it would never be enough. What we know of this life has only taught us about loss, about work, how it is neverending & oppressive and steals from our souls and breaks our hearts even when we did not think there was any love left after all of this anger and without your kindness. All we know is that hands are for holding and eyes are for tears. We’re giving up on this life but we know it has already abandoned us, as we drown in incalculable debt and irretrievable hours, a strip of asphalt so cold and unforgiving that we claw at the gravel piece by piece, wave after wave after wave, until our fingers can reach land again. There is no compass for this grief. It is only measured through absence, or the days that we have not expired from this earth, the undetermined rotations around the sun that we must be here without you. It won’t be long, you said, as we promised to each other but most importantly when the promise was made to you, that as long as we are on earth and not underneath it we will bear this grief, your grief, the generations of grief you held before you, all the grief that is both born and found that holds us to one another, that runs inside of and around us like water. We are the vessels for its remembrance, and we refuse to be released, from the sadness of yours and the grace of your mother’s, from the carelessness of ours. It possesses us, with delirious despair. It screams inside of us, with a broken larynx. We give the grief reasons to stay, to not allow it to be glaciered from our loneliness, and we do this for a year and then it becomes two, three, and before our imagination surrenders it has been ten and who we loved is beyond language and who we love is still without. This wreck of a lineage is ours, it is all we have and all we have known, and once the wave floods one dune it produces another & another & another after that. No, this wave never exhausts itself, it wears us down and calcines our bones but carries us with each crest. It spines the fiction of our dreams and unreasonable desires, the unrequited longing for a life that is not this one. A planetary plea for grief to yield this body and for time to release us both. Because it is here, at least, that we shall be free.
- Kim Nguyen
Night Gallery is pleased to present The funny things You do, a solo exhibition by Canadian artist Divya Mehra. Known for her meticulous attention to the interaction of form, medium, and site, Mehra’s work deals with her diasporic experiences and historical narratives. She incorporates found artifacts and readymade objects as active signifiers of resistance or as a reminder of the difficult realities of displacement, loss, neutrality, and oppression. Mehra works in a multitude of forms, including sculpture, print, drawing, artist books, installation, advertising, performance, video, and film.
here at least we shall be free (build yourself a Taj Mahal for common folks OR a simple set for funniest home video) (2021) takes the form of two inflatable sculptures—outsized renditions of the tidal wave and golden urn emojis. Presented in Night Gallery’s outdoor exhibition area the two symbols are transformed into towering monuments, amplifying both the emotional resonance and absurdity of the originals. In this new work Mehra offers a space to contemplate profound loss, individual and collective mourning, and the endlessness of racialized existence.
Divya Mehra (b. 1981) lives and works in Winnipeg, Canada. She has presented numerous solo exhibitions nationally and internationally, including her most recent national touring exhibition, Afterlife of Colonialism, a reimagining of Power: It’s possible that the Sun has set on your Empire OR Why your voice does not matter: Portrait of an Imbalanced, and yet contemporary diasporic India vis-à-vis Colonial Red, Curry Sauce Yellow, and Paradise Green (2018 - 2020) where both installation and title evolved as the tour unfolded, culminating with a presentation at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON, Canada (2022). Mehra’s work has been exhibited, screened, and commissioned by Creative Time, New York, NY; MoMA PS1, New York, NY; The Queens Museum of Art, New York, NY; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; The Banff Centre, Banff, AB; CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, CA; Artspeak, Vancouver, BC; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON; Consulate General of India in New York, NY; Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto, ON; and the Embassy of Canada in Washington, Washington, D.C, among many others. Mehra holds an MFA from Columbia University and in 2020 Mehra was the recipient of the Wanda Koop Research Fund.