This series started as a part of a performance wherein I wanted to present an "image" to Parveena Ahanger - whose son, Javaid Ahmad Ahanger, was picked up by security forces over 2 decades ago and is "missing" ever-since (Parveena Ahanger is also the founder and chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons in Kashmir). I put my photo next to her "disappeared" son. The photo was mounted on a stick like a placard (like the ones typically used in demonstrations). The image was initially covered, I sat face to face with Parveena in the middle of protesting parents in Pratap Park in Srinagar (where they gather on the first Monday of each month), and asked her to slowly tear the cover to reveal the image inside. I asked her to keep looking at me while she did that because she would often say "you look like Javaid." When the image was revealed she burst into tears. She then held the placard high and addressed the parents and media. She pointed at the image saying "This is my son who was taken away, and this is my son who is here today."
The performance emerged out of an act of solidarity, and a simple yet powerful realisation that Javaid can be anyone, it could have been me, and then it could have been my mother sitting in that park - searching for her 'disappeared son.' This work has now evolved into a series of images wherein I put my own image next to the photos of disappeared persons of Kashmir. Sometimes I use the photo of a friend, or a relative or a stranger - making it impossible to tell who is present and who has disappeared. The viewer will have to search for the current status of the people in these images - just like the parents of the disappeared person are in a state of perpetual search - are their sons or fathers or husbands dead or alive?