illesha Khandelwal (b. 1995, Mumbai, India) lives and works in both Brooklyn, USA and Mumbai, India. She was a Presidential Scholarship Recipient and graduated with a BFA (Academic and Departmental Honors) in Photography at the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston.
Her work has been continually exhibited at several galleries at MassArt, where she has had a solo show and participated in various group shows. She was included in the annual MassArt Auction ‘17, and curated the Annual Photography All School Show ‘17. Most recently her series “12 Days of Dreaming” was showcased at The Salon – an exhibition highlighting a dynamic range of contemporary female artists, in partnership with The Peabody Essex Museum and hosted at Sweet Rickey, a female-helmed film production studio in Boston.
Her work suggests a kind of psychology of geography – an unfixed landscape that you alter by your very presence. Is experiencing someone’s memory of a place the same as physically being there? Which is more real? She is interested in the way the absence of a place becomes a presence, and suggesting what this may look like in the multiverse.
It seems almost impossible to continue to make art without thinking about the current crisis in America. It has become explicit that the crisis is not in fact political in nature, but rather a humanitarian one. At this time of pain, illesha Khandelwal has fabricated a world in which The Other is celebrated. Portraits of the women of Mumbai float alongside images of the places they meander through. Her work urges you to surrender all power to these women, to allow yourself to feel enveloped in their world, and lose yourself in their memories.