Sukruti Anah Staneley
Sukruti Anah Staneley was born in Pune and raised in parts of West Asia. She now lives in Delhi and works with Zubaan. Between making and writing about photography, she designs books and gives them jackets, it really is a magnificent cover for reading manuscripts.
She writes about photographers for Feature Shoot and was previously with The Caravan. This intersection of book making and photography is where she is happiest at.
As an adopted child, one may notice, as I did, the resemblances or lack thereof between family members. This project aims to photographically explore these differences or similarities. As I have been gripped by a long-time fascination with familial resemblances, others have been too.
What if there were to be no transfer of DNA, then could a child resemble her parent?
Through experiences both personal and project-based, it becomes evident that we often impose a perception of resemblance. The French literary theorist and critic Roland Barthes wrote, "Resemblance is a conformity, but to what? to an identity."
As I continue to meet families across India, who are willing to be photographed, my own idea of identity continues to evolve. Through conversations with both parent and child, I hear stories that challenge ideas of family resemblance.
Could such a way of thinking then influence how we choose to adopt a child, can we then unsee a perceived sense of likeness - giving space for an identity to grow. This project begins with a personal story, but extends beyond that.
Resemblance is a response to the taboos and stigmas that surround adoption, either in the sense of deeming it an illegitimate means to forming a family by some, or swept aside owing to the numerous worldwide reports on malpractices and harms brought to the child during the process.
By creating this work I hope that I can bring it not only to the people around me, but more importantly to the families, who are either thinking of adoption or families with adopted children. As the laws around adoption have become more centralized in the last few years in India, the one-on-one interaction time between adoptive parent and child during the process has reduced; photographs are often how parents first meet their prospective kid. This directly raises questions about how we think about creating a family, how much does a photograph tell us about the child and what are we really looking for in a child. The sense of resemblance, or the necessity for it begins here, but does not end there.