Asia

Prabhakar Kamble
Utarand IV

To produce the series of sculptures collectively titled Utarand, Prabhakar Kamble relocated his studio to Kolhapur, Maharashtra, near the village where he was born into a family of daily wage earners. Kamble 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. A commentary on the caste system’s four-tiered hierarchy, the pots become smaller as they go up the stand, mimicking the structure of 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 traditionally contain ashes, illustrating the violence of caste conflict lynchings. Atop each structure is a symbol of dehumanization; Utarand IV features a miniature cow (whose life is considered more worthy than a human’s in many Indian religions) painted in indigo, the color that the Ambedkarite community associates with emancipation and abolishment of castes.

Prabhakar Kamble is an artist, curator, and cultural activist. His work addresses social justice, the annihilation of caste, and the denial of these issues by institutions due to selective humanism and ruling class aesthetics negating subaltern expression. His practice is informed by Ambedkarite principles that privilege equality over caste identity. He is known for his politically-engaged performances, which are often complex commentaries on society, marked by a symbolic use of material, either found or made and at times heightened by the representation of a color.