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Modern Tribal: Producing Indigeneity in Our Times

Gond Art fishImage Credit: George Blower

Dr Rashmi Varma from the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies worked with Tara Douglas (Adivasi Arts Trust), Mukul and Ghetto Tigers and indigenous Indian artists Narayan Deen, Rajendra Shyam and Venkat Raman Singh Shyam to bring indigenous Indian art to a new audience.

The beautiful Gond artworks made me think of animals that might be lost to us, and that have such a huge role in global cultures

A visitor comment

Through visual and performative art they explored how the figure of the tribal is produced, from the British colonial archive to the neoliberal present in India, as the mirror image of civilization and progress.

During the week of Warwick Tate Exchange, indigenous Indian artists produced paintings and gave performances on the bana, a traditional Pardhan instrument. Tara Douglas’ film, The Tales of the Tribes, was on show for visitors to watch, and Tara held a workshop demonstrating to participants how an oral folktale can be translated into a short animated clip.

Gond artVisitors were invited to a reading of some of the work of anthropologist Verrier Elwin by actor Nikesh Patel, a seminar on the tensions between Indigenous art and global capitalism and a performance workshop in which participants devised a piece based on an account of the struggles of indigenous people to maintain their cultural identity in the modern world.

Listen to the recording of 'Indigenous Art and Global Capitalism':

Through these events, performance and artworks Modern Tribal presented visitors and participants with questions about the tensions between multiple truths and histories, and the struggle for justice which ensues between the powerful and disempowered.