When we thought about marriage, it was so much more than a social construct for us. Over the course of the pandemic, we’d spent time thinking about how it would show up in our worlds—in the way we’d compose some – thing, how it would impact our work individually and together, the ability to express ourselves, our vulnerability and how we live our truth,” says Doyel Joshi of her relationship with her husband, Neil Ghose Balser.
Some relationships are fated to begin at the most unintended places. Balser and Joshi’s started at the entrance of the University Center at Parsons School of Design in New York City. “I was wear – ing an orange turtleneck, getting out of a yoga session. Balser and his friends were hanging out there. We noticed each other and just needed an excuse to start talking,” says Joshi. Despite not having met previously or having mutual connec – tions or social circles of any kind, the couple felt like they were placed in each other’s lives at the right time. “We became friends and spent a lot of time at the university library. She was working long hours, and I helped her with the sound design and composition of her final thesis,” says Balser.
Working together inspired them to start a creative studio called HowAreYouFeeling.Studio, with an interdisciplinary practice creating art installations, creative concepts and sound design with brands, fashion, films and events for clients including Gucci, Raw Mango, Nowness, Alla Carta and Mercedes to name a few. This started a seven-year-long creative partnership, as well as one in life. The strong walls of cultural barriers and general intolerance in the country led to an introspection of what contemporary India meant to them. The answer was found in their artistic practice and ethos. Balser says, “There’s a lot of fluidity in our relationship. Our work as artists impacts our personal choices and moments as partners too. We wanted our wedding to reflect who we are as people, our world view and our values. It echoes in our wardrobes, the choice of venue, the ceremonies, the menu, the invitations, the photographs and the emotions our loved ones felt at the palace wedding.”
The couple drew inspiration from tradition, borrowing ideas from Joshi’s parents’ wedding 34 years ago in Rajasthan. “With the whole village contributing in small ways, collaboration and community was central to their wedding. Someone got their horse, another made sweets, and others hosted their guests. Our families played a big part in organisation, guidance on customs, culture within family and beyond. We used this idea of ‘collaboration’ too, especially with artists.” At Mandawa Castle, the wedding venue, classic wedding decor was swapped for artworks to enhance emotion, create depth, evoke involvement and provoke thought rather than using something that’s purely aesthetic, allowing them to set a counterweight to traditions they weren’t fully in tune with.