GILL, Simryn, Pooja/Loot
Simryn Gill's personal history of shifting between different geographies, cultures and languages has deeply influenced the development of her artistic practice. Pooja/Loot is an early work created when Gill was newly arrived in Australia and living in Adelaide, constructed from found objects and books she collected while trawling the op shops of a culturally diverse city with a high proportion of ethnic minorities. The installation consists of 58 novel-sized, early-twentieth-century books, into which the artist has carved various shrine-shaped pockets or crevices. These are book-ended by two open pages from a nineteenth-century dictionary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words and phrases: the words forming the title of the work – ‘pooja’ and ‘loot’ – appear on these pages. Translated from Hindi to mean ‘worship’ and ‘plunder’, they suggest the potentially fraught histories of the books and objects, and the process of their acquisition.