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Constitutions
Rajayshri Goody, What Is the Caste of Water?, 2017. Glass tumblers with Panchagavya. Courtesy of the artist

November 3, 2021 – January 22, 2022

CONSTITUTIONS

Rajyashri Goody, Sohrab Hura, Sajan Mani, Prajakta Potnis, Birender Yadav

Curator : Swapnaa Tamhane

In 2022, India will celebrate 75 years of decolonization. In the process of writing the Constitution of India between 1949 and 1950, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Chairman of the committee, was adamant to include an article outlawing discrimination against what he termed the “Untouchables of India”, or those who fell out of the four castes as determined by the ancient law book, the Manusmriti. The tenets that Ambedkar included are being gnawed at with the daily subjugation of Dalits and Muslims by the Modi government and the BJP party, who are referred to as “Saffron Terror” due to their saffron-coloured garb. Caste apartheid and violence against women in particular take place over and over again without repercussions in a country that is becoming subsumed into Hindutva or Hindu nationalism, contrary to the secular state it was founded as.

The exhibition “Constitutions” includes the work of five artists from India who critique oppression created by caste discrimination and labour. Emancipation and self-representation is experienced in Sajan Mani’s works and performances in which he looks to the non-human as a way to escape his “Dalit black body”. Rajyashri Goody turns the Manusmriti into pulp and covers bookshelves with it. Prajakta Potnis’ works take foam as a leitmotif that refers to her uncle who worked in a detergent factory only to find out that bubbles were forming in his lungs some forty years later. Sohrab Hura’s photographs and video trace communities who live along coastlines of the country, upon which he layers a dizzying multitude of images culled from social media and the post-truth news. Birender Yadav’s chalk pastel drawings, produced during lockdown, turn bodies into tools and tools into bodies. This exhibition considers the constitutions of body and state, how each are imbricated in the other given the complexity of attaining justice and equality as the foundations of the economic, social, and political spheres when the current government is slowly suffocating what is the world’s largest democracy.

In 2022, India will celebrate 75 years of decolonization. In the process of writing the Constitution of India between 1949 and 1950, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, Chairman of the committee, was adamant to include an article outlawing discrimination against what he termed the “Untouchables of India”, or those who fell out of the four castes as determined by the ancient law book, the Manusmriti. The tenets that Ambedkar included are being gnawed at with the daily subjugation of Dalits and Muslims by the Modi government and the BJP party, who are referred to as “Saffron Terror” due to their saffron-coloured garb. Caste apartheid and violence against women in particular take place over and over again without repercussions in a country that is becoming subsumed into Hindutva or Hindu nationalism, contrary to the secular state it was founded as.

The exhibition “Constitutions” includes the work of five artists from India who critique oppression created by caste discrimination and labour. Emancipation and self-representation is experienced in Sajan Mani’s works and performances in which he looks to the non-human as a way to escape his “Dalit black body”. Rajyashri Goody turns the Manusmriti into pulp and covers bookshelves with it. Prajakta Potnis’ works take foam as a leitmotif that refers to her uncle who worked in a detergent factory only to find out that bubbles were forming in his lungs some forty years later. Sohrab Hura’s photographs and video trace communities who live along coastlines of the country, upon which he layers a dizzying multitude of images culled from social media and the post-truth news. Birender Yadav’s chalk pastel drawings, produced during lockdown, turn bodies into tools and tools into bodies. This exhibition considers the constitutions of body and state, how each are imbricated in the other given the complexity of attaining justice and equality as the foundations of the economic, social, and political spheres when the current government is slowly suffocating what is the world’s largest democracy.