Curated by Shaunak Mahbubani An apexart Exhibition
Featuring: AltNews \ Arko Datto \ Asim Waqif \ Dalit Panther Archive \ Johar Jhargram \ Mandeep Raikhy \ Payal Arya \ Sanket Jadia \ Samar Grewal \ Sarah Naqvi \ Smita Rajmane \ The Wire \ Vidisha Saini \ Video Volunteers \ Vishal Kumaraswamy \ Zine: Medium as Message
October 7 - November 3, 2018 Wednesday - Sunday, 12 - 7pm at Kalakar Theatre, Westend Marg, Saidul-Ajab, New Delhi
A brightly decorated house is on fire. A loudspeaker sings shrill praises of the patriarch. No one is seen exiting the building. A singular woman fights the blaze. Is the rest of the structure empty, or have its inhabitants been convinced the flames are unreal? The dark times of authoritarianism have returned and fascists are out on the streets. A small glimmer of hope during these bleak days is the ability to see clearly, and thus prepare to counter, the otherwise obscured forces of what Michel Foucault has theorized as disciplinary power. He asserted that beginning in the Eighteenth Century, power structures transformed to exercise control over the mind — rather than the body — of the subject, cutting much deeper into all aspects of the individual’s life.1 Modern social institutions, such as education, healthcare, justice, and prison systems, incorporate these disciplinary terms which ensure citizens are carefully fabricated into the dictated social order.
Post-colonial theorist Sanjay Seth notes “parallels between the processes described by Foucault and developments in the colonial world, where new regimes of power-knowledge were used to rule conquered peoples and to map and sometimes remake the social field.”2 The colonial project of the institutionalization and acceptance of government law and bureaucracy has come full circle, as post-independence Indian governments now use these institutions to enforce their neo-imperialist agenda, and none as well as the current right-wing government. The Hindi word Saavdhaan (used both as a military call to attention as well as a neighbourly hark of safety) viscerally captures the dichotomous tension that hangs over the country today and is depicted in Arko Datto ‘s nighttime photographs. Citizens can either get behind the marching band of the populist regime or live in a state of constant wariness pre-empting an attack around the corner and whilst a third route exists, it is obfuscated by fear.
Special thanks to the Kalakar Trust for their donation of the exhibition venue, The Gujral Foundation for their support, Karan Kaul for organizing ‘Zine: Medium as Message’, Shiva Nallaperumal and Juhi Vishnani for identity design, Abid Saifi for production, Rihaa Kaur as Exhibition Manager, Kshitij as Exhibition Assistant, Pallavi Surana for research, and Vidisha Saini, Tej Haldule, Paris Furst, Léuli Eshraghi, Carole Dieterich, Niha Masih, and Polina Schapova for their invaluable help and feedback.