press release

25.05.2018 - 07.07.2018
Preview: Thursday 25.05.2018 18:30 - 20:30

Curated by Prabhakar Kamble and Sumesh Sharma with works by Amina Ahmed, Judy Blum Reddy, Camille Aleña, Yogesh Barve, Nayantara Bhatkal and Shrujana Niranjani Shridhar, Julien Creuzet, Rajyashri Goody, Ayesha Hameed, Tom Humphreys, Hamedine Kane, Saleh Lô, Sarika Londhe, Amol K. Patil, Savita Prashant, Saviya Lopes, Ranjeeta Kumari, Jithinlal NR, Sudharak Olwe, Tejswini Sonawane and Jihan El-Tahri.

During May 2018 Clark House Initiative will inhabit The Showroom, bringing with them an approach to art production and discourse that is based on communitarianism and a rootedness within their specific urban context of Mumbai, and an informal sociality that is at the heart of their working practice. Clark House has fostered a unique institutional model, integral to which is close collaboration and support between artists and the development of distinctive thematic curatorial projects, working with ideas of freedom and strategies of equality.

The exhibition has grown out of a dialogue between the artists and curators that touches on undercurrents of caste, class and Blackness within the artists’ practices, drawing on the connections between the British Black Arts movement and Indian contemporary art. In particular the exhibition features a number of artists whose practice concerns Dalit politics.

Amol K. Patil and Yogesh Barve will present an archive of social housing established in Bombay, which will be developed further in relation to The Showroom’s neighbourhood. Patil will also reinterpret the archives of the Dalit Panthers, with whom he has familial links, his father having been a member. Yogesh Barve will investigate Dalit literature and its relationship to the Dalit Panther Party along with Nayantara Bhatkal and Shrujana Niranjani Shridhar. Patil, Barve, Sudharak Olwe and Savita Prashant will explore the vocations of Dalits that were reserved for them during the tenure of the caste system, a discrimination that has been socially transformed into professions such as manual scavengers, cobblers, musicians and cremation groundkeepers.

Through a residency at Gasworks Jithinlal N R will research the British Black art movement; work by Saviya Lopes investigates the hierarchy among the Catholic bishops in India which then reveals the situation of Dalit Christians in India; and Ranjeeta Kumari has collaborated with more than twenty women from her locality creating a mosaic of tiles made from their discarded sarees as they sing songs which she has recorded as a performance.

Other works in the exhibition include a collaboration between artists Jihan El-Tahri and Parashar Naik that maps the politics of India in relation to Africa in the periods of decolonisation. This piece is produced by Clark House along with a collaborative work between Mauritianian Senelagese artist Hamedine Kane, printmaker Tejswini Sonawane and London-based artist Ayesha Hameed. Kane and Hameed map the distance between the shores of Dakar and the Caribbean imagining the poetry of the African slaves and the Indian indentured labourers who sailed across the Atlantic.

Collaborating with Sarika Londhe and Tom Humphreys, Camille Aleña will create sculpture made out of colourful synthetic ropes that are used to weave pot holders, mirror frames and other objects by women who live in the suburbs of Bombay to augment their incomes. Aleña creates a structure that either celebrates or laments the aesthetics of equality and accessibility so commonly promised in architecture.

Saleh Lô paints portraits to protest discrimination based on miscegenation. Apart from modern day slavery which is prevalent in Mauritania, children born of Black and Moorish unions are excluded from societal social intercourse. Lô, himself of mixed race, learnt how to paint through lessons on YouTube, using his skills to primarily paint portraits. Amina Ahmed, born in Uganda to Turkic-Indian parents, collated a diary of her favourite Black singers in the UK, drawing cosmic circles as halos around them. Her work is in conversation with Judy Blum Reddy’s immense mural I am Afraid of Americans!, which is a biographical critique that spans her lifetime, drawn over two years, discussing the destruction brought about by the assumption of majoritarian identities in popular culture. Prabhakar Kamble’s installation animates the coopting of the Dalit Ambedkarite Movement by both the political left and right despite their collusion in maintaining upper caste hierarchies in all realms of power.