Thursday, December 9, 2010

Re-Look Lecture by Kajri Jain : The Handbag that exploded

Somberikatte @1 Shanthiroad
RE- LOOK: Lectures on Indian Art

The Handbag that Exploded:

Mayawati's Monuments and the Aesthetics of Democracy in Post-Reform India

a lecture by

Kajri Jain


Art Historian, University of Toronto, Canada

Wednesday 15th December 2010, 6.30 pm

@ 1 Shanthiroad Studio/Gallery


The Handbag that Exploded:

Mayawati’s Monuments and the Aesthetics of Democracy in Post-Reform India

Ever since the Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati came into power as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh she has been at the centre of media controversy, most recently because of her massive drive to build monuments and statues of ‘Dalit icons’, including, notoriously, statues of herself holding her trademark handbag. The media coverage so far has largely represented majority public opinion as ‘infuriated and sickened’ at her profligate waste of public money on party propaganda and ‘self-aggrandizement’ rather than the material betterment of her constituency. To this opinion, propounded by right and left alike, is opposed the (almost exclusively Dalit) defence that Dalits have a legitimate claim to being represented in the same forms that have hitherto been available to others. The paper argues that aesthetic redistribution – in this case, the emergence of new forms of Dalit cultural expression – is neither ‘merely’ symbolic nor ‘essentially’ economic, but material/sensible in ways that speak to both culture and economy.


Kajri Jain teaches in the Department of Visual Studies and the Graduate Department of Art History at the University of Toronto. Her research is on image-cultures in India, with a focus on the interface between images, religion, and vernacular business cultures; she also teaches modern and contemporary Indian art and cinema. She is the author of Gods in the Bazaar: the Economies of Indian Calendar Art (Duke University Press, 2007), and is currently working on a book on the emergence of monumental iconic sculptures in contemporary India.


*RE-LOOK - Lectures on Indian Art

This series of lectures will present exciting new research being done in the areas of art history, art practice and visual anthropology in India, each for the first time in Bengaluru. Distinguished art historians and academics will be invited to give illustrated papers on their recent work and interests. There will be a lecture every month, which will take place at the popular artist space 1. Shanthi Road, situated in the heart of the city.

*Somberikatte: is a Kannada word meaning idler’s platform - usually the platform around a large tree where people gather to gossip and exchange news. It is a fictional institution, sometimes a forum, sometimes a film production company or the name of a photo studio, used by the artist Pushpamala N.



he Studio/Gallery at 1.Shanthiroad, Bangalore, is an independent artist run space for art residencies, slide lectures, small conferences, installations, performances, screenings and informal gatherings. Centrally located with an award winning design, it was initiated bySuresh Jayaram and is administered by a not-for-profit trust VAC – Visual Art Collective.

Pushpamala N


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