ka Dingiei

When a community loses land, there is a visible loss of property and livelihood. But there are deeper losses, intangible ones of culture, mythology, knowledge systems and identity that are arguably more valuable. Re-interpreting an ancient Khasi myth, Ka Dingiei is an allegorical exploration of these ideas.
It is set in Lama Punji, a Khasi village located at the border of India and Bangladesh. Being an indigenous community, there is a close association between the Khasi identity, their way of life and land. Since 1998, this area has been subject to large-scale destruction because of stone and sand mining. As anethnic minority, Khasis don’t have adequate rights or the power to fight corporate bullying. Discriminatory government policies, political backing, legal loopholes, and the lure of development keep the mines running. The resulting erasure is felt not just in the physical and socio-economic landscape but also in the community’s mythical and cultural landscape.
Ka Dingiei is an ongoing project that stands testimony to this social injustice and approaches art making as an act of resistance and allegiance. It relies on collaboration, indigenous narrative ethos, rejection of traditional representations of victimhood, and long-term community engagement.

Aishwarya Arumbakkam is a multidisciplinary artist working across photography, filmmaking, and drawing. A deep interest in cultural narratives and identity has led Aishwarya to express herself artistically in mythological and personal stories. She employs subtlety, slowness and poetry as political gestures. She has exhibited her work in India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, China, and the UK. She was selected as one of the ‘Ones to Watch’ by the British Journal of Photography in 2019. In 2020, she was awarded the Magnum Foundation Photography and Social justice Fellowship. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Studio Art at the University of Texas, Austin.