Edition 2023

PRESENTED BY Party Office, New Delhi, India.

Vishal Kumaraswamy

ಮರಣ  Marana [Demise]

Vishal Kumaraswamy employs experimental technological processes to relay how grief moves through the human body, as the body moves through public space. Marana [Demise] presents an articulation of death in the artist’s Dalit community, and the celebratory practices of mourning that follow. Referencing a funeral procession carrying the dead body through the streets, he looks towards the defiance of this collective, as it inhabits public spaces otherwise controlled by beneficiaries of the caste system, Hinduism’s discriminatory socio-cultural hierarchy that has enabled the historical oppression of Dalit people.

Drawing from ritualistic traditions of grieving ‒ associated with incidents such as death and enforced disappearances, or long-standing processes of systemic erasure ‒ Kumaraswamy collaborated with two performers to animate specific movements that occur within this procession. The lowering and constricting of the body reveals the burden of grief, while the repetitive motion of dance signals the cycle of life and death. The images also reflect on the sonic ‒ the sound of the parai drum ringing in the air; and mediate on metaphysical markers. Through these processions, the Dalit body, usually seen as laboring individually, splits from its everyday context, and embodies the communal strength of an assembly.

Using 3D scanning and photogrammetry, Kumaraswamy maps the movement as data and reinterprets it through generative visuals, presenting a new imagination of the Dalit body, and its demise. The body floats, weightless, in this digital terrain as it lowers towards its resting place. The torso ‒ often the site of caste-based violence ‒ glitches repeatedly, reminiscent of the free-flowing yet rhythmic movements in the procession. Through the performance of the subaltern body in digital landscapes, Kumaraswamy envisions an emancipation beyond reality: the possibility of transcending the restrictive caste-based social order for an individual to assert more agency and autonomy.

Tanvi Mishra

Curator: Tanvi Mishra

With support from the Louis Roederer Foundation and Polka.

With support from PhotoSouthAsia, India.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture