Jasleen Kaur is a Scottish-Indian artist based in London. She was brought up in a traditional Sikh household in Glasgow. An early influence upon Kaur’s practice was formed by working in her family’s hardware business, ‘Hardy’s Hardware’, an Anglicisation of her father’s name Hardeep. This enforced a connection with materials, compelling Kaur to re-evaluate objects, their cultural connotations and what they reveal about how we live and work within different communities.
He Walked Like He Owned Himself is an orange tracksuit with a blue embellished stripe, made from Kaur’s process of uncovering and making sense of a colonial history of India. In the British Sikh diaspora, memories of orange and blue Adidas tracksuits attach to the visual identity of Sikh youths in ‘90s Britain; that orange-yellow mimicking the mustard fields of the homeland. Embroidered down the arms and legs are the weapons that make up the Sikh emblem — kirpan, khanda, chakkar — whose origins share no genealogy to Sikhism’s religious history but instead evolved from the design of British Indian army uniform logos. It is this slipperiness of culture, this (mis) formation of cultural identity in which Kaur makes this artwork.
This acquisition comes at a time when Kaur is about to start work on a new project in Rochdale, The Culture Industry. Co-commissioned by Touchstones Rochdale and UP Projects, this multifaceted project will capture and celebrate the diverse cultural influences that have shaped Rochdale, from the Industrial Revolution to the present day. Focusing on economic and linguistic change, the outcomes include a new musical work, performances, a publication and a series of portraits.
Jasleen Kaur (b. 1986, Glasgow, UK) lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions and commissions include Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2018); Victoria & Albert Museum; Goethe Institut, London (both 2017); Baltic, Gateshead (2016); Art on the Underground, London (2015).
Presented by the Contemporary Art Society through the Omega Fund, 2018/19