For my latest video project I worked alongside the Hudson River near NYC to create a piece that inspires climate action from a place of connection. This post highlights my thought process and some content that inspired the video (set to be released in 2022). Here I cover topics surrounding ancient memory, fantastical beings, death, ancestors and mermaids.
Throughout my spiritual evolution, I find that being near a river is inspiring, and grounding. Recently I moved closer to the Hudson River, or “Mahicantuck”, “the river that flows in two ways.”
I regularly visit the river, almost as often as I used to visit my Biji when she was living in the physical world.
I lay near the river, sing with the river, try my very best to listen to the river. I fantasize about jumping in, watching the boats float across with intense desire to be in one of them.
I remember the rivers that I grew up swimming in and wonder, will I ever get to swim joyfully in the Hudson?
My connection to rivers in my ancestral lineage is strong down to the translation of my parent’s birthplace Panjab, “Panj” translating to 5, “ab” to river. The rivers are considered to be the soul of the land. My dad reminded me of a sakhi of Guru Nanak dev Ji the other day. Guru Nanak vanished into a river for 3 days, reappearing and speaking of oneness. Of course I thought he must be a mermaid, how fantastical.
The last time I visited Panjab, I went to a river with my dad where the ashes of my ancestors and relatives were once scattered. We walked through the temple, the river being at the end. I saw two men carrying a rice bag, possibly filled with ashes. The sky was grey, the river was murky, plastic floating above. My dad mumbled “I don’t want my ashes here.”
I think of this memory often.
How can a river connect me to my ancestors? What will the state of the river look like when my ashes are scattered?
When I look out into the Hudson, I think of home. Although the flow is different from the Yuba River, it’s still a river connecting into one large ocean. I also think of the most ancient and fantastical sea creatures I can imagine: whales, mermaids, sea beings that are yet to be birthed.
This is how I connect to the land here, through fantasizing with the river.
I feel the past, present and future all at once. I think of climate change, I think of harmony, I think of joy, I think of unpolluted waters and all the stories that have passed through.
In my filmmaking process I meditated one day near the Hudson, asked for permission to film and then went to work. When I got home, I scanned a few aura photos that I had taken in 2017/18 at Magic Jewelry in Chinatown. I pieced them together in Premiere and had Melika score the film.
My video “dear river” was birthed.
I made “dear river” to commemorate my connection and future with the spirit of rivers.
Through this film I hope to inspire folks to lean into their spiritual connection to land. To cultivate harmony & a peaceful path forward.
So this really feels like just the beginning of my relationship to rivers, although I have always been so drawn to them. I wonder what I’ll find on this journey. What will my evolution look like as our world is impacted by climate change? How will I flow with certainty and clarity on my own and within the collective? How am I connected to climate action in my ancestral land, Panjab?
I’m so grateful to the Hudson for igniting my desire to connect with rivers again.I am so grateful for the original stewards of the river. May we continue to learn with open hearts and open minds
Thank you for reading.
with love and warmth,
My vocal healing coach, Gretchen Retka shared a documentary titled SHIPIBO with me. It was very inspiring to see how connected the Shipibo people are with the Ucayali River in the Amazon rainforest in Peru. Their connection informs their relationship to art, healing and their ancestors and present life. The Shipibo people’s relationship to rivers reminded me of the current situation in Panjab. A panjabi artist late S1dhu M00$ew@l@ released a song SYL, mapping out a key issues connected to water justice in Panjab. I wasn’t able to fully make this link that Panjabi folks are water protectors till after watching the documentary. I now see how vital it is to maintain a relationship to rivers.
Hello, I’m Jasdeep, I thought I’d write a blog post to connect some dots. This post is something like a director’s cut, where I breakdown my website and get a chance to highlight my work (I’m Aquarius, so this kind of analyzation is very fun for me).
So let’s begin…
I am a Director, Editor, Videographer, Musician, Photographer, DJ & Writer. I’m proud to have many skills and means of expression. Having varied interests keeps me in balance and in wonderful flow. Being able to direct one day, edit the next and possibly DJ later that evening brings me joy.
In this post I’ll be sharing my background in FILM, PHOTO and MUSIC as well as a short description of the correlating tabs on my site.
Let’s start with my background in film.
Before I learned anything technical, I experienced a shift in my early 20s where I began to value films the way I valued memory and life. During this time I learned about the importance of using my voice. I felt that filmmaking would be a great tool for me explore my perspective and ideas.
In 2014 I spent time learning the technical skills of filmmaking at a commercial production house in the Bay Area, Mac House Productions. There I met a wonderful group of people who were driven and passionate about video production. The way that I was connected to Mac House is somewhat of a mystery to me, but one that I cherish. I was previously interning at the Sikh Coalition, which is a civil rights nonprofit founded after the attacks on 9/11. I expressed some interest in filmmaking to my advisor Simran Kaur (who now runs a curated book store for young Sikh children). Simran connected me with someone, who then connected me with Jessica Fee (a filmmaker & photographer). Jessica is remains a great friend and peer in filmmaking.
I began creating music videos and solo experimental films while I lived in the Bay Area. The first music video I made was with Kohinoorgasm. We filmed in a yellow victorian apartment in Berkeley with a beautiful group of friends.
I began freelancing and building my portfolio after my time at Mac House and then moved to NYC in 2017 to further carve out my voice. Since then I have continued to make music videos and experimental video essays. I hope to one day work on narrative pieces and film my scripts into animated videos. Below is the second music video I worked on with Spellling on Mare Island right before I moved.
Here’s where I’m at now and what I’ve worked on since then…
Here you’ll find video art that I directed. Some are experimental, others are music videos. In these videos, I explore my perspective by approaching the concept, camera and subject matter through the lens of curiosity and care. I like to believe that there’s a fantastical element in each of these videos. I enjoy exploring fantasy as a means of transmuting and transporting energy through portals of time. I’m extremely proud of the video work on this tab and I’m grateful to share.
When I’m not making video art, I’m collaborating with others. This tab features my freelance video work. Here you’ll find a diverse library containing documentary, nonprofit, fashion & commercial videos. If you click on a video, you can see that my role(s) range from director, editor, videographer and animator. I’ve met some very interesting and great people through these projects. You can view more of my video work in my Vimeo library. I created the animation below for SOAR, a nonprofit centering joy and justice for South Asian survivors.
The second tab will lead you to my photo work.
I can’t quite remember when I began exploring photography. It feels like a tool that has been constant in my life. I have a wide range of photography styles but I chose to highlight my 35mm photos taken on a Pentax that I bought near the Sunset in SF (I love this camera).
The photos that I chose to share on my website are documentary style film photos. I did sneak in the Guerrilla Girls for Surface Mag since this was my first time shooting a cover story and I was very excited. Another time I was published was in 2021 for a photo I did with The Shed for the New York Times. The 35mm photos in this tab represent the time in-between these publications.
This photo reel is a small glimpse into my photo collection. I decided in 2017 (when I first moved to NY) that I wanted to take my day to day photography more seriously, I started to take photos every month and get them developed locally (my favorite place is Photo Life in Brooklyn). I love making personalized zines for my friends and loved ones. I’m hoping to put together a photobook in the future.
I have prints for sale. I use my photography as an extension of my spiritual practice so most of my pictures look very calm and peaceful. #stillness hehe.
Finally the music tab….
My music journey started at age 4 on a wooden harmonium in a temple that no longer exists. Since then I’ve been journeying through music as Jakari Wing. Jakari Wing is my fantastical persona inspired by an intergalactic donkey. Most of my musical process involves vocals, instrumentals and Logic Pro. I love being able to jam with friends, play with my sitar and collaborate with my partner. I hope to continue incorporating more of my compositional skills with visuals. Here are some examples Realign (below) & Phiran Wali.
Here you’ll find some of my music releases as Jakari Wing. Last year, I shared two soft and dreamy singles titled “Realign” & “Don’t Sleep” (below). I can’t wait to share more of the music that I’ve been working on.
I love exploring music and mixing sounds that I hear throughout my day. DJ’ing is a way for me to travel between time. I blend different sounds I hear into one continuous stream of consciousness. In this subtab you’ll find my DJ mixes & features.
This leads me to the end. Please feel free to explore now that the little tour of my site is over. Thank you for staying and reading. I really didn’t think I would finish so thank you. I hope you learned a little about me through my first post.
Portrait of me on steps by Sonia Prabhu, aka raverjiin. I am wearing a white top with a green tank layered on top, blue jeans and black pointed shoes. I’m sitting on the now demolished East River Park amphitheater. I acknowledge that this photo is taken on a Lenape sacred site.