Sheba Remy Kharbanda
Creatrix | Visionary | Alchemist

About

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The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.
— Joseph Campbell

I am an autodidact video artist, filmmaker, oral historian, storyteller and metaphysician born in London to Sikh immigrants from the Punjab and now residing in Brooklyn, NY.  My work is shaped by the experience of occupying the liminal: on belonging/not belonging, the ‘neither here nor there,' the neither 'this' nor 'that.' I take my guidance from the Moon. In her material and symbolic representations, she serves as a foundation for how I navigate the world, providing an ever-renewing source of inspiration and guidance and a reminder that my deepest calling is in the realm of the archetypal feminine.

A fascination with systems and a desire to understand the order of things led to reading for a degree in Law at Queen Mary, University of London. After graduation, I went on to conduct research, mostly qualitative, with international human rights organizations in post-9/11 USA. As a Human Rights researcher with Amnesty International, I monitored the human fallout of the United States’ governments War on Terror by gathering testimony of those caught in the net of immigration and law enforcement sweeps.  I went on to co-found, alongside celebrated attorney and author Andrea J Ritchie, a New York City-based research collaborative committed to engaging the participatory action research model with grassroots organizations. Our work focused on national and international policy and practices that impact upon immigrants, restaurant workers, sex workers, women survivors of intimate and state violence and LGBT people of color survivors of police violence. It was through this work that I learned to appreciate the power and importance of storytelling and of the need for those relegated to the margins of our society to be heard, in their own voices. I soon began to incorporate video into my work, finding the visual medium a powerful way to reach people in ways that words do not and to vision people who are typically relegated to the fringes of mainstream society. This work let to the establishment of a video oral history project that explores migration and displacement from the perspective of elder women of the Punjabi diaspora in London, UK. My goal was to create an archive of living histories from a feminine perspective and to that end I interviewed over two dozen Punjabi women and community leaders and activists living in West London, many of whom had survived or whose parents and grandparents had survived The Partition of India. A large portion of those video stories now live openly on the World Wide Web.

Being a "sensitive" since a young age and realizing that many of the ills that plague humanity have deep roots, I began a journey into Metaphysics. At around the same time, a dear soul friend passed on and in seeking understanding  I found myself shunted fully and undeniably onto the non-linear path, which  has become a sort of primary "home" in this world. I offer sessions in Astrology, Tarot and Energy work inspired by ancestorship (who and what came before us), as well as "calling" and "vocation," (what we came to offer and accomplish).

The marriage of these various expressions has borne fruit through a budding art practice. On the heels of the oral history work I conducted in West London, I created, with my partner, a video art installation inspired by my father’s personal narrative of surviving the Partition of India and remaking home and identity in new lands. The piece, which is staged inside an Indian wedding tent, serves as a nod to the cathartic power of storytelling and the need to create explicitly congregational spaces to deepen healing. It has been installed at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi as well as the Southbank Centre in London. In the Fall of that same year, I debuted the first of a series of short films that deal with memory and ritual as part of the Decrocher La Lune show at The Invisible Dog in Brooklyn. The work was the outcome of a workshopping process that spanned a full lunar cycle, a container in which to work mindfully with feminine archetypes. From that work I created a diptych single channel video entitled Liminal. Initially inspired by psychic memories of my maternal grandmother, it took on a wider meaning. It debuted in September 2016 at the Caos Art Gallery in Venice, Italy in conjunction with a series of video art by other women artists, centered on the theme of Unbehaust, of being undomiciled, inside and outside, or between spaces. My latest piece, Elemental, is a commission for the Mela Phulkari at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. It is a diptych single channel video that serves as a meditation upon the Panchtattvas, or five senses, and the cycle of life. I am currently in the process of working on a series of videos in which I explore my relationship to the lunar cycle. Over the duration of one full year, during my cycle, I will record the images and thoughts that occupy my waking and sleeping mind and translate these into 13 short videos, the first of which can be viewed here.   

Though only an infrequent writer, I was honored to be included in the groundbreaking anthology, Her Name Is Kaur: Sikh American Women Write about Love, Courage, and Faith edited by Meeta Kaur an published in May 2014. I also write periodically for InPlainspeak, a digital magazine on sexuality in the global South.  

With my partner, I co-own of boutique video production company based in Brooklyn NY where I produce, sometimes direct and generally have my finger in various commercial and not-for-profit video projects.  

 

 
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