"I grew up with my nana and I would follow her everywhere...go to uta...…
Abhi’s exhibition A Migrant’s Path is on at Depot Artspace from 12 August – 1 September 2021.
*All images are courtesy of the artist Abhi Chinniah
Hello! Abhi here, portrait photographer, marketer by profession, I have a 6 month old border collie who takes up alot of my time (believe people when they tell you border collies have A LOT of energy). I currently have my exhibition A Migrant’s Path showing at Depot Artspace until September 1st. Thank you to all the people who have come in and engaged with the portraits + essays so far!
- You grew up in Malaysia. What was your upbringing/background like and also your personal immigration story?
Come into the (now online) gallery and read my essay to find out!
- How did you get into photography and now to your art practice?
I’ve been photographing since I was a teenager, with a keen interest in portraiture. I remember my dad buying me a small tripod because he noticed how attached I was to my Sony point-and-shoot. It’s funny I didn’t realise photography was my thing until I hit my mid-twenties and was between jobs. I picked up my partner’s Canon 6D and a friend and I headed to a beach out West. That day changed things for me and set me on a completely different path. I’d been in the hair and beauty industry up to that point and honestly thought that was going to be my lifelong career (who knows I may go back eventually). That friend is Soph by the way whose portrait and essay is part of my exhibition showing in your space.
- What was a challenging time & a time of highlight in your journey as an artist?
A challenging time was probably last year when I had completed my first series Light Skin Dark Skin and the pandemic hit. I wasn’t sure if or when the work would get to be seen, and that was pretty intense as I imagine it would be for anyone who puts their heart and soul into something. A highlight would be having one of my portraits on a billboard in Tauranga along The Strand in January last year (remember a time BEFORE the pandemic?!), it was part of a competition that I was a finalist in.
- Where/what/who do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from my lived experience, and the experiences of my family. Particularly my father and his migration story. A lot of this has also come from really missing my parents who live in Malaysia. I see this exhibition as an extension of Light Skin Dark Skin. All the portraits were taken in New Zealand! My self portrait was taken in my living room.
- What do you see as some of the main takeaways from this exhibition?
I suppose it would be raising awareness. Putting women I never saw celebrated in mainstream media on gallery walls. Photographing them, telling their story, creating togetherness. Taking photos.