EXHIBITING AT BCZF!
Two years ago at Broken Frontier I picked out the work of Aleesha Nandhra as being one of the highlights of the thirteenth issue of the much missed free street press comics anthology Off Life. Her short story ‘Grief’ was a quietly powerful exploration of loss that created a sense of intimate connection between artist and reader by focusing on the experience of the grieving process rather than its protagonist per se.
It’s a perspective that Nandhra uses to great effect in her self-published comic zines Thinking in the Dark, a minicomics series that take its inspiration from “the thoughts and feelings that come to mind when you can’t sleep at night.” They’re publications that very much embrace a DIY culture ethos, with each issue presented as short 8-page zine format entries. Indeed, it was at OOMK Zine’s PROCESS! festival at Somerset House this summer which celebrated independent media and making that I rediscovered Nandhra’s work.
Thinking in the Dark touches on themes that have both a personal specificity and a recognisable universality. Nandhra explores ideas of loss, dislocation, disconnection and insecurity with visual metaphor (one depicting moths on a lampshade is particularly memorable) and starkly affecting illustration that is, ironically, all the more familiar and relatable for its (largely) lack of a clear on-page protagonist. Fractured thoughts and worries exist as their own discrete mini-narratives but also build up into something much larger; a visual essay that echoes the niggling concerns that disturb us, too, in the small hours of the night.
Nandhra’s approach to the page is rooted in what borders on visual poetry; there’s a cadence to her delivery of words and imagery that works in a deeply resonant union. Slice-of-life work with a fragmentary potency, Thinking in the Dark brings us directly into a claustrophobic nocturnal world that is detached from its daytime counterpart and yet by its very nature inescapably intertwined with it as well.
Nandhra’s comics output has been relatively smaller to date but these two issues are undoubtedly the work of an artist with a sophisticated understanding of the form and its connective properties. If you’re at BCZF this coming Saturday make sure her table is one of your very first stops.
For more on the work of Aleesha Nandhra visit her site and online store here. You can also follow her on Twitter here. She will be exhibiting at this year’s Bristol Comic and Zine Fair on October 6th.