Caste in the art world: In conversation with Jaishri Abichandani

Nov 26, 2020, 12:37 PM
In this episode of Caste In The USA, Thenmozhi Soundararajan speaks to internationally renowned curator and artist Jaishri Abichandani about the challenges involved in representing caste in the US and global art world.

Jaishri highlights the difficulties in fighting for representation in the US art world. In terms of representation, the numbers are frighteningly low for South Asians in art. According to Jaishri, for every 100 artists in New York, only 0.2% are South Asian. The Dalit representation? Almost invisible, she says.

With billionaires using art to maintain hegemony, there is a limit to the amount of diversity they are allowed to bring in with their work. Most of what counts as the voice of Indian art has been framed by early independence Brahmin ideologies, creating an uneven setting. For Dalit artists, the inability to access the 'elite' world of art is that much harder. 

"The value of art is assigned very arbitrarily by gallery dealers, it depends on exclusivity, it depends on a kind of esoteric community supporting it very much in the ways Brahminism works," says Jaishri.

Join the conversation around fighting for art that represents the stories of the oppressed, at the intersectionality of caste and class. With art being a powerful tool, both Thenmozhi and Jaishri agree that it is important to use the medium to prevent the silencing and erasure of marginalized communities.