Rethinking Representation: Caste, Class, Gender & Race in Art

- Dr Rakhee Balaram

The status of visual representation begins to be challenged when the agency of representation is invoked. Once representation loses its neutrality, the focus shifts to the conditions of its production which is no longer seen merely as a visual transaction between the artist and the world. It brings to the foreground the asymmetry of power relationship between the subject and object of representation. Representation is more seen as a dialectics between presence and absence, visibility and blindness. This course challenges the elitism of conventional art history by foregrounding the political and the social dimension of representation from critical historiography of colonial art history, to critiquing hierarchy of the desi and margi, to engaging with classical Sanskrit aesthetics, regional and non-classical aesthetics and art practices, and interrogating absences of representation along caste, class and gender lines. It also aspires to engage with the pre-modern past via theoretical frameworks made available by critical theory (deconstruction, post-colonial studies, gender studies etc.) so as to construct tools of inquiry from the objects of study while keeping away from nativism.

 

References:

• David Summers, “Representation” in Critical Terms for Art History eds. Richard Shiff & Robert Nelson, Chicago University Press, 1992, pp.3-16.

• James H Kavanagh, “Ideology” Critical Terms for Art History eds. Richard Shiff & Robert Nelson, Chicago University Press, 1992, pp.306-320.

• Brian Wallis Ed., Art After Modernism: Rethinking Representation, New York: The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1984.

• S K Panikkar, P D Mukherji and D Achar, Towards a New Art History: Essays on Indian Art, edited with S K Panikkar and Deeptha Achar, D K Printworld, , New Delhi, 2003.

• Vidya Dehejia ed., Representing the Body: Gender Issues in Indian Art, New Delhi, Kali for Woman, 1997.

• Homi Bhabha, “Commitment to Theory” in The Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994, pp.19-39.

• Gayatri Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak ?” in Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (eds) Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, London, MacMillan, 1988, pp.271-313.

• Mohanty, Chandra. “Under Western Eyes.” Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, 1991.

• Kinderly N Pinder (ed) Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race in Art History (The Imaginary Orient by Linda Nochlin)

• The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature, and Art by James Clifford

• Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 199