Holding Hands (2018) has multiple narratives running parallel running through it. Two Indian men, centrally positioned in the photograph, hold hands looking directly at the camera. The gesture is what it is – but what exactly it is remains elusive and is complex. In India, heterosexual Indian men often hold hands in public as open signs of friendship. The two men in the photograph are friends and are gay. Their hands are firmly clasped – implying a form of solidarity and resistance. Another narrative is the backdrop of the Australian bush. Here indigenous plants , grey box eucalyptus and hemi-parasitic mistletoe (also indigenous) and introduced blackberry, frame the two protagonists. While the two protagonists also set the bush into new relief.
The Australian landscape and its inhabitants, (both indigenous and white settler) is documented in art and history, if in a somewhat checkered way. What this image attempts to do is bring another discourse into the space of the Australian bush – that of the contemporary migrant, the Asian – Australian, asserting their presence and validating their sense of belonging, on their terms, in their own dress codes and body language. The image should be plausible– yet it remains strange, as strange as images of early white settlers who attempted to bring Englishness, through dress codes (and other social behaviours and attitudes) to the Australian landscape.