Migrants is a reflection on the constant movement of people and of the plants that nourish us.
I began this series while on a residency in Kerala, India. Tea, coffee, cocoa, pepper and other spices grow in this region, but most of them were brought in from other parts of the world (China, Africa, South America….) Similarly, many of the people who harvest these crops are themselves part of the cycle of migration: they may have migrated in to Kerala from Tamil Nadu or Assam, and/or they may depend on family members who migrated out of Kerala to the Gulf states as nurses, engineers or teachers.
It seemed fitting to work on fabric, something light and portable. I walked every day, drew the plants that I found, and asked the people I met on my walks to write the names of the plants in their languages. Often this would spark discussions between people about which language to use, if a plant was really called the same thing in Tamil and Malayalam, what the word meant in English, and how the name should be spelled. Malayalam is the language of the majority of people in the region, but has it roots in Tamil, the language of the migrants who have come more recently to Kerala from Tamil Nadu. Everyone speaks a few words of English, which has migrated into their lives via the television and the internet, and can help them migrate to a different country or economic class.
Who is local?
Who has the right to live in a certain place?
Who has the right to keep others out?
Which of us is not a migrant?
What would the world do without migration and the migrants that we all depend on?