In the video installation Between the Waves, Shah invites us to a universe populated by unique creatures—half-terrestrial, half-aquatic beings that share resemblances with corals, seahorses, and unicorns. They symbolize non-binary ways of being in the world: corals reproduce by parthenogenesis—an asexual form of reproduction that doesn’t involve fertilization—seahorses are among the rare species in which the male carries the offspring to birth, and unicorns represent otherness and hybridity. Making their way through environments polluted by all sorts of plastic debris testifying to human activity, the creatures conduct a constant search for intimacy through rituals that seem both archaic and futuristic, in landfill sites, marshes, deserts and other places. As they explore intuitively, their movements are lustful, soft, caressing, cleansing, embracing––and in these many restorative frictions the proximity of bodies and objects offers new possibilities for life. At the pace of peaceful, deep breaths, a postgender world emerges within which kindness and sensuality form the basis of a resistance that is ecosexual, spiritual, and interspecies. Between the Waves proposes that we imagine other ways of connecting with each other, taking inspiration from the multiple swarms of vitalities surrounding us. Through an overlapping of historical and mythological references, Shah addresses posthuman relations in which queer futures and intimacies may be embodied and all forms of life and nonlife are interdependent.
Tejal Shah (born in Bhilai, India; lives in New Delhi, India) is interested in how gender, ecology, science, and sexuality relate to each other. A practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and permaculture, Shah seeks to expand ways of establishing connections with other forms of subjectivity and with Earth. Shah’s transdisciplinary practice, enlightened by Buddhist and queer thought, challenges dualistic systems in which the components are perceived as disjointed and opposed. Issues related to violence, power, love, and regeneration are probed in Shah’s videos and performances and, more recently, explored during workshops and in practical and theoretical study programs.