Salima – Progression

Salima’s story.


Hello, my name is Salima Punjani in this portrait what I wanted to show was my own interpretation of a goddess named Bherunda Nitya. Bherunda Nityais a goddess that is always pictured completely naked but covered in gold and as you can see in this portrait I am nude and I hope to work on a way to cover my portrait in gold. She is known as the goddess of vulnerability. For me when I think about what it is like to flourish with MS, with a disability, I think that it is about being vulnerable. I used to hide my disease for a long time and then finally I realized that there was a lot of strength in being open and honest and owning my own vulnerability and frailty and more importantly not letting anyone else define what my vulnerabilities are.

A little while ago my tricycle got stolen and I can’t balance very well because of MS and my life completely changed when I got a tricycle. It helped me to stay active and to experience Montreal in another way. When it was stolen people shared it on facebook and I ended up getting a tricycle from another artist that used it for an art project and it was a really special experience and I loved that people were so kind and generous in caring about what had happened. The thing is at the same time there were a lot of people kind of defining what it was like for me living with MS saying that I couldn’t get out of bed for days and creating these like big stories about what living with MS is like. No one had ever asked me what it is like and they just took it upon themselves to use me as a sort of cause or as a sort of pity case and since then I have really learned that I need to be in control of my own narrative and it is oneof the reasons that I decided to do this project to support people in defining their own narratives. So coming back to the portrait this is why I decided to interpret Bherunda Nitya because I see the power in my vulnerability, defining my own vulnerability and embracing it and celebrating it.