Shanu Lahiri is no more. A great and rare soul has left Kolkata and the earth.
I remember she was so generous with her time, and always curious about the next generation. I was in Kolkata preparing for a solo show at Experimenter gallery. Her daughter Damayanti (Dodo) invited me to her house, via our mutual friend Annu.
Shanu-di kept asking what forms I use. Photography, film, together, separate, mounted, projected? She wondered about these new forms of work making where brush never touched paper. She wanted to understand how I “made work” on a computer. What did it mean? Did I feel satisfaction? What about the fact that the files always went to someone else? Your hand may never touch the finished work? What does that mean for your generation? She asked me if I didn’t get tired of always working on a computer. “Haat byatha kore na? Chokher jonno’o to kharap?” (Don’t your hands hurt? It’s also bad for the eyes.)
A dedicated and tireless activist, she insisted I take all the pamphlets home and study them carefully. She made a whole stack, and then handed them over carefully. “Don’t read them now, later when you go home. Now you will eat with us”
Her anti-nuclear pamphlets were done with so much care and intensity. I imagined her going from site to site, giving those out. When did she have time to paint? But I also know she did, always, make time to paint.
A total artist and a total activist. The kind so much rarer today.
Wish I could have talked to her again.