Prabhakar Kamble lives and works in Mumbai, IN

 

Prabhakar Kamble’s art addresses the existential conditioning of India’s silent majority, marginalized by the hierarchies of caste. His practice is informed by Ambedkarite principles that privilege equality over caste identity. To produce new work for the 12th Berlin Biennale, he relocated his studio to Kolhapur, Maharashtra, near the village where he was born into a family of daily wage earners. Influenced by vernacular subaltern aesthetics, Chandelier (2022) is made from belts, bells, fabric, and leather used to harness and decorate bulls and represents marginal castes such as sweepers, itinerant flaneurs, musicians, and artists.

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Prabhakar Kamble, Utarand II, 2022, earthen pot, metal foot, cloth, indigo powder, acrylic, iron rod, wooden base, 137,2 × 55,8 × 55,8 cm © Prabhakar Kamble, photo: Tousif Matwal

For his Utarand [Stacked vessels, 2022] sculpture series, the artist has cast the feet of agricultural workers in metal to prop up the eponymous terracotta pots traditionally used to store food and grains in every home. Representing the caste system’s four-tiered hierarchy, the pots become smaller as they go up the stand, mimicking the structure of a society where most of the population is comprised of impoverished communities, which form the base of the caste system while a small minority makes up the wealthy upper castes. The pots also resemble the terracotta urns that contain ashes, illustrating the violence of caste conflict lynchings. Atop each structure is a symbol of dehumanization—a cow (whose life is considered more worthy than that of a human), a sweeper’s broom, a sanitation worker’s gloves, and a ceiling fan (from which the young Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula hung himself protesting discrimination). Kamble has painted them in indigo, the color associated by the Ambedkarite community with emancipation and the abolishment of castes.

Sumesh-Manoj-Sharma

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Prabhakar Kamble, Utarand I (detail), 2022, earthen pot, metal foot, fiber brains, satin cloth, indigo powder, acrylic, iron rod, wooden base, 122 × 56 × 55,8 cm © Prabhakar Kamble, photo: Tousif Matwal

Exhibitions

Working Practices: a collaboration with Clark House Initiative, 2018, The Showroom, London (UK)

Punascha Parry, 2017, Villa Vassilieff, Paris (FR)

Existential, 2017, Clark House Initiative, Mumbai (IN) (solo)

TAKE / THE / CITY, 2017, Clark House Initiative, Mumbai (IN)

Busan International Art Festival, 2017, Busan (KR)

Agitation of Restless Mind I & II, 2016, Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai (IN) und Metta Contemporary, Mumbai (IN) (solo)