Upping the Aunty
Follow this project through the Upping the Aunty Tumblr.
Upping the Aunty is a two-part project that combines street style photographs shot in Canada and India and paintings referencing these photos to explore the iconic “South Asian Aunty”; her personal style and her unique role in our lives. As an example of transnational, diasporic cultural production that pays homage to the fabulousness of aunty style and her role in changing, shaping and performing social and cultural knowledge, the project challenges dominant, Eurocentric narratives of feminized immigrant and diasporic communities, national identity, street style and popular fashion. The project makes marginality “the condition of the center.” (Trinh T. Min-ha)
In South Asian culture, an aunty may or may not be a biological relation. She may be a friend of the family or a stranger. But if she is older than you – old enough to be your mother's friend – then she is accorded the status of aunty. Neither our mothers nor part of our peer group, aunties may be trusted confidantes or gatekeepers of social decorum.
There are many aunties, and we may meet them every week, occasionally or only once; however they have a considerable impact on our lives. In jest, we may fondly mimic their gold and diamond studded hand gestures or their pairing of traditional clothing with running shoes. This mimicry is a form of distancing, while simultaneously drawing attention to cultural traditions that may continue unbroken, be discarded, or are transformed.
Who's your aunty? Do you dig her style. Post a photo on your preferred social network with the hashtag #uppingtheaunty and make sure to tell me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A special thank you to the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for supporting this project.