Mixed Media & Literary Projects

I am queer and non-binary poet, writer, filmmaker, mixed-media and voice artist based out of India. Drawing inspiration from dreams, memories, fantasy, lived experience and evolving socio-political perspectives, my practice involves blending various mediums of literary and visual arts, archive and performance. I am interested in stories that are personal yet universal, the kind that riffs on identity, desire, oppression and mental-health. I like writing and performing poetry, prose and creative non-fiction. Here are some of my projects. They are all in different stages of research, execution and production.I am currently seeking grants, funds and collaborators for many of them, so if any of these pique your interest and you'd like to collaborate, or if you'd just like to know more about the projects, feel free to get in touch with me at varshapanikar@gmail.com!

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Origami Folds

Origami Folds is an ongoing exploration by Varsha Panikar that employs dreams, memories, archive and interviews juxtaposed with the curves and folds of human body, and uses it as a medium and metaphor for hopeless fragility and hardened impenetrability, from which emerges the themes of identity, dysphoria, commodification of the body, and denial and loss of autonomy as conditions of globalized society and cultures, through the lens of south-Asian, queer and marginalized bodies. Parts from the ongoing series have appeared and been published in various zines and platforms.

Ongoing

SEE HERE

Down The Family Tree

Part memoir, part biographical, part soliloquy, 'Down The Family Tree' reflects upon identity and loss that arises from grief, told through the medium of family photographs, recordings, archives, paintings, and memories.

Ongoing.

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Down The Family Tree

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Down The Family Tree

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Forest Dreams

A gothic and mystical graphic novel about the journey of a young girl into a magical and ancient forest, inspired by fables, folklore, fairy-tales, myths, and dreams.

Seeking writers, graphic designers and visual artists to collaborate on the book.

Ongoing.

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My Body Is A Prison - Zine

A zine by Varsha Panikar from their ongoing mixed-media series, Origami Folds, that employs dreams, memories, archive and photography to explore the human body, and uses it as a medium and metaphor for hopeless fragility and hardened impenetrability, from which emerges the themes of identity, dysphoria, commodification of the body, and denial and loss of autonomy as conditions of globalized society and cultures, through the lens of south-Asian, queer and marginalized bodies.

Trigger Warning : This piece deals with depression, anxiety, and body dysphoria.

been curated by Zine Club Chicago, State University Of New York's Sojourner Truth Library and Grrrl Zine in their zine collection

AVAILABLE ON AMAZONKINDLE

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Who are my people?

A open source repository and an online installation that aims to archive stories and experiences of south-Asian queer communities with respect to 'chosen family' and 'queer kinship', in hopes of preserving memories of today's queer identities, so they aren't abandoned, forgotten, or lost.

Unearthing what an imagined queer oasis

could look like.

 

Ongoing.

SEE MORE HERE

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Ongoing

 

Returning to the themes of chance encounters, surreal connections, and serendipity, 'The Beauty of Strangers' is a photo essay exploring the fleeting, but sometimes, memorable moments shared with total strangers.

The beauty of strangers
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Bodies Of Desire

An ongoing anthology of stories, memories and epiphanies told by combining various mediums with prose and poetry. The series explores intimacy and desire by allowing it to become a powerful and vulnerable means of expression and exploration into themes of identity, intimacy, empathy, and queer love and kinship. Excerpts from the series have been published in Love Portions, an issue of Rogue by Ratio Auream Publishers, available on Amazon & Kindle. Artwork from the series has also been showcased at "Queer Futures Archive" at Parramatta's Riverside Theater, Sydney - as a part of "Burn All The Books That Call You The Unknown" exhibition in 2020. An audio-story from the series has also been published on Lonely Heart Club, created by Anuja Ghosalkar, for gender-positive & queer audio-erotica that ranges from poetry, literature to confessions and real-life tales.

 

Bodies Of Desire has also been adapted into a spoken-word film by the same name, currently streaming on Nowness Asia, Nowness and GirlsInFilms.

WATCH THE FILM HERE

FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM

Currently seeking graphic designers and visual artists to collaborate on the book.

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City On Wheels

A self-portrait with Bombay as its backdrop attempting to bring poetic insight to the life of a forlorn poet, bereft and terrorized by existence.

 

Ongoing.

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When Home Won't Let You Stay

A photo essay on migrant porters of Shimla, popularly called 'Khans'.

 

Ongoing.

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I Am Colour

'I Am Colour' uses colours as metaphors and treads through memory and dreams to uncover thoughts, emotions and all that rests and hides within the recesses of the mind.

Ongoing.

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Whispers To My Shadows

A digital photo-poetry zine that examines the poet's strifes with identity, oppression and mental health, and attempts to draw insight into the dichotomy of dark and light in hopes to start conversations around mental health. The zine was showcased at "Queer Futures Archive" at Parramatta's Riverside Theater, Sydney - as a part of "Burn All The Books That Call You The Unknown" exhibition in 2020.

Coming out soon.

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End Of The Line

An upcoming anthology of poems and prose written during the lockdown of 2020, intended as a catharsis to cope with uncertainties, ambiguities, depression and grief. A collection of emotions, thoughts and memories that needed a place to rest outside the world of grey matter. An attempt to verbalize the shattered mirror through which we occasionally catch glimpses of our world; one that reminds us of the inescapable end and the irrevocable frailty of life. A life that is not just flowery words of love and pain, but a deep cavern that has reached the end of time and continues until there is no more sun in the sky, no more water to crash on the shores, no more air to breathe but only release... from what we know or understand of this world. A sentiment - all too familiar for those that survived, or are struggling to rise from the depths of the hopeless despair.

Coming Soon

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Dream Diary

I started writing ‘Dream Diary’ when I was about 16. For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from sleeplessness, but whenever I did manage to get some sleep, I almost always had really vivid and lucid dreams. Some were fantastical, some were surreal, some were recurring, and some were downright morbid and terrifying, but they were always fascinating. So one day, I started jotting them down, for the fear I might forget them, even though some would be best forgotten. Last year, more than a decade later, I decided to compile them all in this series - of poems, prose and stories, drawn from the memories of these fascinating and mysterious dreams that have haunted me, inspired me, comforted me and always left me intrigued, obsessed and compelled to further explore the strange and bizarre world of dreams. Excerpt from the series published in Dream Issue, a zine by The Local Colour Zine.

READ HERE

Ongoing.

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Labels - An Essay

'Labels, In A Not-So-Perfect World', an essay on their experiences with labels with respect to the discourse around gender, identity and self expression for The Lipstick Politico.

READ HERE

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Letters To Luna,

Luna, mi amor,

 

I write to you of love and pain, lonely nights spent in vain; the dreams, the nightmares, the longings and the despairs.

Love,

Alex Nobody

FOLLOW HERE

Image by Justice Dodson
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undress

Undress /ʌnˈdrɛs/

verb [no object]

take off one's clothes

noun [mass noun]

the state of being naked or only partially clothed

Can one truly undress their soul to someone, in a given moment? Till the end of eternity, clad themselves in nothing but the soul's nudity?