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Insiya Dhatt ~ California

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About: “Insiya draws inspiration from both her birthplace in the desert of Rajasthan and the intensity of her hometown Mumbai. After receiving her Masters in Banking and Economy, she spent 15 years shaping the face of eCommerce. During the following years, she left her position in the dot-com world to devote herself to art.”.”

Bay Area Bountiful: Made Here – Northern California Public Media – (PBS) TV interview of Insiya Dhatt

Dreams 2023
By Insiya Dhatt
San Francisco, California: Insiya Dhatt, 2023. Variable Edition of 10.

9.5” x 11.5” wooden box containing 8 to 9 books (sizes variable from 1.5” to 3”), 20 hooks, tray for holding books and two built in trays. Books case bound with laser etched patterns on Kozuke paper. Interior pages of blank text blocks and cut patterns. Bound by hand-sewing or an accordion fold with Mohawk Via text paper. Box constructed of Birch with a living hinge technique. Box and mobiles by the artist. Includes “Instruction for Assembly” sheet.

Drawing inspiration from a child's mobile Insiya Dhatt designed for adults a playful interactive storytelling experience about dreams and dreaming.

Insiya Dhatt: “Dreams is a conceptual project that symbolizes the elusive nature of dreams and aspirations. As individuals engage in assembling the mobile and personalizing the accompanying books, they embark on a transformative journey of self-expression and discovery. The project prompts contemplation and balance of aspirations in shaping our lives and explores the connection between dreams and our lived experiences.

“The materials used in the project include light-colored Kozuke paper, intricately laser-cut wood hooks, and connectors. All these components are carefully enclosed in a box shaped like a book, adding an element of anticipation and storytelling to the experience. As individuals’ thread and construct the mobile, they have the opportunity to weave their own dreams and aspirations into the artwork. The books act as blank canvases, inviting the addition of personal stories, musings, and reflections.”

Dreams 2023 book
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these are just objects
By Insiya Dhatt
San Francisco, California: Insiya Dhatt, 2023. Edition of 20.

14.5 x 10"; 16 pages. Case-bound presentation album, consisting of 10 pages of Arches BFK Rives 270gsm paper. Photographs composed and taken by the artist in her studio in San Francisco. Typeface is Garamond Premier Pro. Photographs are printed on Canon Premium Glossy paper with an Epson Inkjet Printer. Images laser cut to provide 3D dimension. Conceived and created in 2023 by Insiya Dhatt. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Insiya Dhatt: "The book ‘These are just objects’, explores the concept that objects can evoke diverse interpretations depending on the context in which they are viewed. The six pages serve as windows into different aspects of the world, inviting viewers to contemplate the varying perspectives that arise when encountering these objects. Each image encapsulates a distinct narrative, shedding light on the complexities and disparities present in our society.

“The first page, ‘Like a compass seeking direction or the qibla,’ highlights the subjective nature of right and wrong, illustrating that these concepts are not fixed absolutes, but rather subjective viewpoints influenced by the diverse cultures we encounter.

“On the second page, ‘A girl rarely gets to choose between Deen or Duniya,’ delves into the burden imposed upon girls to walk the path of godliness without a choice. This societal expectation fosters inequality, as religious teachings often took precedence over other aspects for girls, hindering personal growth and autonomy.

“The third page, ‘Virasaat, inheritance laws dictate,’ exposes the unjust treatment of daughters in inheritance practices. These archaic beliefs diminish a daughter's rightful share compared to her brother's, perpetuating the notion that she is somehow less valued within the family structure.

“The fourth page, ‘Mehr, serving as a wife's financial safety net,’ explores the dynamics of a marriage dowry system. The symbolic wealth bestowed upon a wife is often locked away, requiring the husband's consent for access, further perpetuating unequal power dynamics within marriage.

“On the fifth page, ‘Nose piercing - naak vindavanu without her consent,’ captures the nuanced issue of consent and the subtle messages present in societies that still practice circumcision as a rite of passage for young girls. Such practices can inadvertently contribute to the normalization of similar violations in adulthood.

“Finally, on the sixth page, ‘When a woman's desires stray from the conventional norms,’ challenges society's tendency to label women as ‘churail,’ associating them with instability and perceived malevolence when they defy societal expectations. This image urges us to question and transcend the limitations imposed by rigid norms, celebrating the courage of those who dare to pursue their own desires."

these are just obhects book
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Alice in Wonderland
By Insiya Dhatt
San Francisco, California: Insiya Dhatt, 2022. Series variant.

4 x 4" paper base with 3 x 3 x 3" four-sided cube attached. Cube with one sheet fold out. on each of the four sides. Removable cube top with circular holes on each of the sides. Cellophane over the circular holes to act as windows to the fold-outs. This version uses gray and red papers.

Insiya Dhatt uses the Children's book by Lewis Carroll as her basis for her artist book "Alice in Wonderland". She calls this an open edition but it feels more like a series variant. Each book structure is unique in materials. The illustrations may be different with each structure.

Insiya Dhatt: “I choose to put in the illustrations. For example, cutouts are different depending on what I am trying to fit in. This 2022 version has the same words ‘We’re all quite mad here’ but the primary cut out is a hat while in a previous version it was a teapot. It's the same story - so content and sections remain the same. The variation is in the illustrations I create and cut and how I lay them out.”

The sides for this version are –
          “Off with their heads” with foldout around a heart
          “Curiouser & Curiouser!”
with a keyhole cutout.
          “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”
with a circle motif.
          “We’re all quite mad her”
with a hat cutout.


Alice in Wonderland book
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By Insiya Dhatt
Poem by Athena Kashyap
San Francisco, California: Insiya Dhatt, 2022. Edition of 20.

12 x 9" closed; 11 pages. Double sided accordion. Bound like a wedding album with henna-colored handmade Japanese Momi Kyoseishi paper and covered in a bridal sari to represent the life of a married woman. The henna hands art was laser engraved on handmade Indian cotton rag paper using an Epilog Fusion Pro laser. The text is letterpressed printed using Garamond typeface on a Vandercook cylinder press. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Insiya Dhatt: “’Vidai’ was conceptualized at the beginning of 2022 to share the tradition of arranged marriages in India and the artist’s own experience.

"The book is a two-sided accordion and includes the poem ‘Hands Latticed’ written by Athena Kashyap in her book ‘Sita’s Choice’ about her grandmother’s experience in an arranged marriage. The book opens with the poem that aptly describes the trepidation faced by a young bride and a lifetime of molding to meet the expectations of an ideal wife. After the last page, the cover opens on the other side to give a glimpse of the artist’s experience with an arranged marriage.

Vidai is the ceremony in Indian marriages of saying farewell to your family – when a bride leaves her parents’ house to go to start a new life with her husband in his house. After this ceremony, the bride becomes a guest in her parents’ house and must fit into the house and family of the groom. “

Vidai book
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By Insiya Dhatt
San Francisco, California: Insiya Dhatt, 2019. Edition of 5.

8.5 x 8.5". Accordion structure. Eight laser-cut images.

Insiya Dhatt: “’Illusions’ examines the reality or elusiveness of basic qualities of life. By obscuring desirable qualities of life and placing them opposite optical illusions, ‘Illusions’ demonstrates the varying internal and external views of one’s foundational needs. From a distance, the book can be viewed as visually stimulating yet closer up the picture is more nuanced.

“’Illusions’ is an accordion book with eight laser-cut optical illusions with a single word opposite each optical illusion. These words and images question the availability of so-called expected qualities of life. In my own life, I created the illusion of strength for my family in my home country while I struggled internally in my life in the West.”
$750 (Last 3 copies)

Illusions book
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Insiya Dhatt SOLD /Out of Print Titles:

The Heart Longs
By Insiya Dhatt
San Francisco, California: Insiya Dhatt, 2019. Edition of 5.

5.5 x 5.5" closed. Materials: paper, ink, wood, paint. Housed in custom box of painted wood with movable base.

Insiya Dhatt: "'The Heart Longs’ is a handmade book with interleaving pages, the left side is comprised of Islamic interlaced symmetrical patterns featuring the 8-pointed star and the opposing side features the ghazal (sonnet) ‘Dil Dhadakne Ka Sabab Yaad Aaya’ by the late Pakistani poet Nazir Kazmi. This particular work is an interpretation of my experiences growing up as a Muslim girl in India.

“To escape Mumbai during summer, my family spent most of our summer vacations visiting hundreds of mosques that were full of intricate Islamic tiles of bright and vivid colors. Entry to these tranquil mosques required women to be covered by the burqa with our sight obscured and bodies hidden.

“The book’s structure is to simulate that experience of being restricted and yet at the same time exposed to such wondrous beauty. The ghazal I chose, essentially a poem expressing longing for a time (or person) that was no longer part of the present, mirrors the feelings I have towards the life I left behind. These memories are bittersweet and warm but are always interleaved with the pain of being hidden and lesser as a woman.”
(SOLD/ Out of print)

The Heart Longs book
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Page last update: 12.12.2023


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