Objects of Discontent: A Dalit Intervention – Students’ Biennale•4th Edition

Objects of Discontent: A Dalit Intervention

Swathi and Madhukar, both students in JNAFAU Hyderabad, work with unconventional material to raise their voice against matters of crime and injustice, especially towards those who have been socially, politically, historically and systemically disadvantaged and disprivileged. Black is the colour of dissent for Swathi, who expresses unquenched anger towards the harsh realities that the dalit community lives in. They are constantly subjugated in all aspects of societal living – money, politics and living conditions. Denial has been a fact that stands tall between them and their rights for all of the time. While everything around their perimeter has improved, developed and advanced, they were left untouched. With the nation-wide lockdown, their difficulties only heightened, with the heinous crimes against the women and children of their community reaching extremes. Swathi has used charcoal and burnt wood to carve shapes and figures that are the remainders of the burnt bodies and homes. The ‘fragments’ are a ghastly representation of what exists for some but is often overlooked by others. Madhukar cuts, stitches, even collages together leather to make forms that speak of their physical pain and suffering inflicted by the politically dominant mass. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the eventual lockdown, a large fraction of migrant labourers were stalled at different parts of the country, completely devoid of job and wages. The effects of this would reflect in the distant villages where their families too suffered the pain. Madhukar has meaningfully created an array of objects in leather as a poignant protest. A series of calendar pages in leather subtly depict events that shook the nation during each month of the lockdown. Thorns, footmarks, the torn and stitched leather drum et al indicate deep-felt anguish registered for the times to come.

Mucharla Madhukar

College of Fine Arts, JNA&FAU

Swathi Bheemani

College of Fine Arts, JNA&FAU