Reorient (v): “to reacquaint someone, especially oneself, with a situation or environment.”
INDIGO (2019-ongoing) is a photographic series that explores the multiplanar capacities of the dynamic indigo plant, pigment, and array of blues that it renders. It unites us physically and cosmically as our bodies are composed of 80% water and our gazes are drawn to the blue sky from birth, connecting us to the earth and to each other. As the sun moves through the sky, and light refracts across the atmosphere, the shifting hues of blue mark the passage of time. It is no surprise then, that the color has been understood throughout history and across different cultures as something that allows us to transcend and connect our physical bodies to the celestial. It is a constant for us all, whether we are settled or migratory, imprisoned or free.
Indigo, a dark blue dye rendered from a tropical plant belonging to the pea family, was once widely cultivated and traded globally. It is now used in textiles and holds cultural significance across the world from Japan, Mexico, Yemen, India, Senegal and Vietnam, China, and Lao. The production and practice of its harvesting and usage draws a constellation, mapping various functions of indigo across individual cultures that produce it. In Japan for example, indigo, also known as aizome, was traditionally worn by the lower social classes. Japanese farmers wore it to repel snakes, mosquitos, and pests, while firefighters wore it for its fire resistant properties. The INDIGO series thus reflects textiles' capacity to divide us, while also revealing the unifying power of the pigment itself and the artisanal process, across cultures and continents.
In Yemen, for example, the indigo process was mastered by Jewish artisans who had ties to the Jewish community in Uzbekistan, likely united through the trade routes of the Silk Road and Mecca, which not only served as a religious center but also an economic one. In Uzbekistan and Yemen, Master weavers who wanted something dyed in indigo would take the fibers to Jewish Master dyers. These communities, though fragmented through religion, collaborated on the same cloth. These interwoven relationships transcended beyond the textile, and echoed across different communities in Asia and North Africa. Despite seemingly disparate backgrounds, cultures and terrain, we are all in fact connected through historical production of textile and symbolic meaning.
In 2015, I found myself in a near fatal circumstance driving in the Himalayas. At the moment of fully submitting myself to the circumstance, I closed my eyes only to feel awash in Indigo. When opening them again, everything in sight bled the color of indigo. This perpetuated a pronounced sense of reorientation - the oscillating moving from extreme disorientation into full orientation. In further travels, I would hear from fellow travellers and migrants who have had similar traumatic experiences, whether in a moment of crisis or extreme pain, felt themselves similarly connected to the wash of indigo. In a variety of cultures, indigo is referenced as “the third eye”, “the brow”, and “third chakra”. It is repeatedly referenced in this state of vertical travel, wherein one finds themselves removed from linear time frames and physical existence–– the borderlands between and beyond varying planes of consciousness.
INDIGO reorient their relationship and understanding of the potentialities of color. It posits that color itself can serve as a means to embrace that which cannot be legible through a lexicon, but can only articulate a state of being - the space existing between. invites the viewer to reorient their relationship and understanding of the potentialities of color. It posits that color itself can serve as a means to embrace that which cannot be legible through a lexicon, but can only articulate a state of being - the space existing between.
- Brader (2015). Campaigning for hearts and minds: How emotional appeals in political ads work. University of Chicago Press