22 November 2012

The Impact of Cultural Arts | Conversations with che kothari

che kothari is a recognized leader in the Toronto community. He is popular among the vibrant youth and artists of the city. I first met che when I attended a joint book launch of Keisha Monique and album launch of Ian Kamau. che kothari had a very warm personality and was the least intimidating despite his strong influence in the community. It would be hard to adequately conceptualize his impact on the city if you had just met him right then because he’d treat you just like his own. I sat down with che to talk about his views on the value of cultural arts and its role in cities like Toronto.
PhotoCredit: (Left & Right) By Che Kothari

About che kothari
Our interview began with an introduction to che kothari’s family. che began by telling me about his mother and father’s immigration from their native India to Canada. che’s father worked in the shoe industry in the Middle East.  As is the dominant story of many Indian families, che was expected to take on his father’s work but although he was grateful and respectful of his father’s journey, his destiny took him along a different one.

Once settled in Guelph, Ontario, the Kothari family would find time to travel to the Caribbean, which felt like a physically closer version of Indian home. che fondly recalled a tender moment on Curacao, an island just north of Venezuela. Carnival was happening and che was absorbed in his efforts to document the scene. In that moment he realized what a blessing it was for him to have the opportunity to witness such strong culture. This was one of his first introductions to the role of documentation through photography.

PhotoCredit: Che Kothari

Back in Guelph, che’s classmates belonged to affluent families and there was little diversity in his neighbourhood. Other than during his travels, it was not until he moved to Toronto at age 17 that he found people who looked like he did, spoke like he did, and were as culturally expressive as he was. He describes Toronto as a “burst of creative and cultural energy that was not as present in Guelph”. There he also discovered communities of young people who were expressing themselves with hip hop and cultural art.

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