In this performative co-interview, the unicorn (Tejal Shah) and the larva (Anuj Vaidya) reflect on their artistic practice, and the trajectory of their work from addressing issues of queer sexuality to those of queer ecology. Anuj and Tejal met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where they collaborated on Chingari chumma (Stinging Kiss, 2000)—a short video that turns a cliched Bollywood ending into a queer fairy-tale phantasy— as an experiment in post-pornography. In this conversation, the artists reflect on the beginnings of their collaboration, giving special attention to their process, their shared love for drag and camp, and to the complicated reception to their work. While Tejal returned to India soon after, the pair continued to remain in conversation over the decades, even as their own practices meandered into questions of gender performance, nation-state politics, activism, and eventually into concerns about the environment and the nonhuman. In their most recent works, the artists confront the legacy of human exceptionalism and invoke the forgotten wisdom of interspecies dependence and desire as a way through the sixth extinction. Will we emerge on the other side? They dare not hope, but they do dare to wonder.
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Research Article| December 01 2020
Anuj Vaidya, Tejal Shah; The Unicorn and the Larva: In Conversation. Camera Obscura 1 December 2020; 35 (3 (105)): 154–165. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/02705346-8631619
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