Arts & Culture

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Passport-Size Portraits

Arjun Rihan2013

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

ARTIST STATEMENT

"Passport-Size Portraits" consists of 23 photographs of myself, taken between the ages of ten (1989) and 33 (2012).

The photographs were taken in the process of applying for various immigration documents such as passports, visas, and employment authorization. The images span school, college, graduate school, jobs, travel, and more. The countries they cover include India, the United States, Singapore, Spain, France, Italy, Canada, and Japan. These photos are tiny windows into one immigrant's journey.

The final arrangement of the images is inspired by sheets of passport photos and notes the year in which each photo was taken. The work uses juxtaposition, repetition, and progression to examine the fragmented and layered experience of living abroad for 17 years.

My prior work has consisted largely of animated films that explore personal stories and themes of culture and identity. "Passport-Size Portraits" is not animated, but it does share a connection with my other work. The art of animation is based on the experience of movement created by successive frames, and what happens between these frames. The individual photographs used in "Passport-size Portraits" are, in fact, frames from my own life.

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ARJUN RIHAN is an animator and filmmaker based in Oakland, California. He was born and raised in Pune, India, and moved to Singapore at the age of sixteen to attend high school. He subsequently moved to the United States for college. Arjun is currently employed as a Camera & Staging Artist at Pixar Animation Studios, and spent seventeen years on various US visas (including three H-1Bs) before recently receiving his green card. Arjun has also created several award-winning animated films. His work has been exhibited at festivals and venues around the world, including the San Francisco International Film Festival, Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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Details

  • Title: Passport-Size Portraits
  • Creator: Arjun Rihan
  • Date: 2013
  • Quote: These photos are tiny windows into one immigrant's journey.
  • Physical Dimensions: 70.5" x 13.5"
  • Medium: Reproduced photographs printed on fine art paper, mounted on Sintra or Masonite

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