Born and raised in the close-knit, yet disintegrating Zoroastrian community in India, Patience Rustomji explores dislocation, the lack of community, and meaningful interpersonal relationships in the building where she currently lives. Since moving to the United States in 2011, she grapples with the uneasy sense of being in between two cultures. Through her artistic process, she works to find a sense of home and to construct an imagined sense of what home means, making her way through the emotional journey of leaving behind a communal identity to discover an individual one. She works with sculpture, photography, writing, and installations. These installations are realistic, yet fictional, depictions of living rooms, bedrooms, and the detailed domestic lives of neighbors’ spaces that she has never encountered. Rustomji engages with the mundane and the everyday in locations that exist on the threshold of public and private space. Often using assemblage and recreated objects, her work is a visualization of the fragile workings of memory through fantasy. Her practice confounds reality and fiction hinting at their coexistence. Rustomji’s two recent bodies of sculptural work use discarded domestic objects that she finds in her building’s trash. The first series of objects is embedded, enveloped, and entombed in white plaster. Rendered mute by the plaster, the objects speak of denied accessibility. The second, a series of combs, shoes, toys, lamps, books, gloves, and a toaster, which is pickled in oil and traditional spices, represent an absent community. Through pickling, the objects are brought into an eternal present and remain as a personal archive of desire, longing, and fantasy.
Patience Rustomji’s work has been shown at Ars Electronica, Festival of Digital Art, Linz, Austria, Redsaw Gallery Newark, New Jersey and 25 East Gallery, Parsons The New School for Design, NY, New York. She lives in New Jersey.