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Exhibition opening + film | Wake up calls for my ancestors

October 28, 2022 20:00 am - 22:00

20:00 Ethnographic Gaze

Film Screening : "India's Stone Wonders" (1934)
With Tanya Talwar and Johanna Függer-Vagts (Institute for Art and Visual History)

20:30 p.m. - 22:00 p.m. Artist Walk and exhibition opening
Featuring Rajyashri Goody, Kirtika Kain, Sajan Mani and Upendranath TR

Colonial archives in various museums and institutions across Europe generate diverse discourses related to history, memory, archiving, art and the authenticity of the colonized nations. "Wake up calls for my Ancestors" is a long-term, critical artistic-archival project that gives an active voice to the silent voices of Dalit and other archived subaltern subjects, appropriated, exhibited, made accessible, edited, and disseminated as mere photographs . The artist Sajan Mani has initiated an interdisciplinary dialogue about the collection of South Indian photographs in the Ethnological Museum Berlin, to which he has invited three artists and three scholars to critically question Eurocentric archiving practices. Internal workshops, research work, installations, performances, films, photographs, panel discussions, interactions and experimental collaborations take place within the framework of the project in order to provide a conscious counterpoint to the accuracy of colonial photography. In search of a space and a history from below, "Wake up calls for my Ancestors" challenges the widely accepted post-colonial methodology that deals with the great nation at the expense of smaller places like Keralam. The possibility of an everyday space-time that can connect both human and non-human actors for compassionate planetary justice orients this investigation to both futuristic and historical modes of thought.


From 17:00 - 19:00 there will be a panel discussion at the Center for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (Institute for European Ethnology, Møhrenstraße 40/41, 10117 Berlin).

Keynote Dr P Sanal Mohan
“Irrepressible Images of History”

Dr. Vinil Paul
"Lives, Ecology, and Visual Representation of Dalits in Colonial Southwest India"
Antony George Koothanady
"Jetztzeit Memory and Colonial Photography: Unarchiving Kerala"
Habiba Insaf "Collecting India for Berlin Museums"
Moderator : Gajendran Ayyathurai


Participating Artists

Kirtika Cain (b.1990) examines caste and identity through her powerful works of art. This exploration of caste through her artwork speaks to her experiences with caste as a woman raised in Sydney, Australia. Though raised physically outside the Indian caste system, her art practice connects her Dalit body to an ancient Dalit presence through materials like cow dung, sindoor, human hair, charcoal, gold and tar, reclaiming their traditional religiosity as her own. The quality of silence and sacredness that these materials uphold are central in her work.
Through various alchemical and experimental printmaking processes, Kain attempts to transform these everyday materials into aesthetic objects of value; thus, re-defining and re-imagining a personal and collective narrative.

Rajyashri Goody is from Pune, India. She attempts to decode and make visible instances of everyday power and resistance within Dalit communities in India through writing, ceramics, photography, and sculptural works made with paper and found objects. She is currently an artist-in-residence at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam. She completed her BA in Sociology at Fergusson College in Pune in 2011, and an MA in Visual Anthropology at the Granada Center for Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester, England in 2013. Goody's art practice is informed by her background in the social sciences as Well as her Dalit roots. Through the use of various mediums, including writing, ceramics, photography, video, and sculptural works made with found objects and food items, she attempts to decode and make visible instances of everyday power and resistance within Dalit communities in India.

Upendranath TR is a Kochi based post-conceptual artist, whose extraordinary artistic journey has many vectors, as a spectrum of mutually enriching art-making processes. Stampographic pattern-making on paper, anthropomorphic montages with discarded glossy magazine pages, hand cut-out collages with home décor wallpapers on mixedmedia surfaced on paper, stenciling, DIY aesthetic of assemblages with disused house-hold objects, Xerox montages with candid photography of the everyday and intimate people and places or social experiments on social media platforms such as quirky self-referential digital photo-montages derived from Hollywood motion picture stills are some of the vectors in the multi-layered and extremely rich artistic process of Upendranath T R. The painting series Fluid Transcode can be seen as a transfer or a convergence of different processes, which is taken forward from his mixed media on paper that comprised of scribbling with pen and ink, sponging patterns with foam seals and roller painting with acrylic, which are his daily rituals or his life in studio as a prayer.

Sajan Mani is an interdisciplinary artist hailing from a family of rubber tappers in a remote village in the northern part of Keralam, South India. His work voices the issues of marginalized and oppressed peoples of India, via the "Black Dalit body" of the artist. Mani's performance practice insists upon embodied presence, confronting pain, shame, fear, and power. His personal tryst with his body as a meeting point of history and present opens onto “body” as socio-political metaphor.
Several of Mani's performances employ the element of water to address ecological issues particularly related to the backwaters of Kerala, as well as to the common theme of migration. His recent works consider the correspondence between animals and humans, and the politics of space from the perspective of an indigenous cosmology. Unlearning Lessons from my Father (2018), made with the support of the Asia Art Archive, excavates the artist's biography in relation to colonial history, botany, and material relations.

Sajan was the first Indian to be awarded the Berlin Art Prize in 2021. He has participated in international biennales, festivals, exhibitions and residencies, including The INHABIT, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, DE (2022), Galerie Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, CA (2021-22) Lokame Tharavadu Kochi Biennale Foundation, IN (2021), Times Art Center Berlin, DE (2021) Nome Gallery, Berlin (2021) CODA Oslo International Dance Festival, No (2019); Ord & Bild, SE (2019); India Art Fair (2019); “Specters of Communism”, Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016); Kampala Art Biennial, Uganda (2016); Kolkata International Performance Arts Festival (2014-16); and Vancouver Biennale, CA (2014). In 2022 he was awarded the Prince Claus Mentorship Award and Breakthrough Artist of The Year from Hello India Art Awards. Between 2019 – 2022 he received an artistic research grant from the Berlin Senate, Fine Arts Scholarship from Braunschweig Projects, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship, Germany.

With the generous support of Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe

Other supporters : Oyoun, Speaking to Ancestors, CARMAH, STIFTUNG KUNSTFONDS and PATHAAL : SPACE FROM BELOW

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October 28, 2022
20:00 - 22:00
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