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A space where there was none: Delhi Bahujan collective hosts art festival

Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 15 March 2018, 20:29 IST
(Priyata Brajabasi)

The lack of visibility for Dalit artists has often been highlighted, but nothing much has been done. A group of students of Ambedkar University in Delhi recently hosted a festival to facilitate spaces for artists as well as art forms to underscore the systematic discrimination of those from the lower castes by Savarnas. 

A sketch by Bahujan artist Syam Sundar at Dalit Art Festival. (Priyata Brajabasi)

The first edition of Dalit Art Festival by Dalit Bahujan Adivasi Collective (DBAC) hosted a lineup of artists, poets, rappers, photographers, film makers, actors, dancers, musicians and writers from 7-9 March.  

The Ambedkarite collective comprises Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi anti-caste activists from the university.

A sketch by Bahujan artist Malvika Raj at Dalit Art Festival. (Priyata Brajabasi)

“We believe a community is constructed in our shared narratives and only art gives us that scope for an unparalleled political imagination that enables us to speak but is not necessarily heard,” Syam Sundar, a member and participant, told Catch. “We have resolved to keep trying like our ancestors until those changes come and will never quit,” the artist, whose sketches show atrocities on Dalits across India, added.

Works of Bahujan photographer Sumeet Samos on livelihood at the Dalit arts festival. (Priyata Brajabasi)

The festival also commemorated Savitribai Phule on the occasion of Women's Day. Anti-caste films like 'The Battle of Bhima Koregaon', 'I am not a Witch' and 'Caste of the Menu Card' were screened.

“We, as Bahujan students, felt our artists are not given enough recognition and it must be accounted for, that like all Brahminical spaces the field of art is not bereft of exclusion,” Akunth, one of the organisers, told Catch. 

“The idea was to facilitate our own space where various kinds of artists can interact not only with students but also with each other,” he added.

According to him, the festival was a critique of “so-called progressive art festivals that have treated caste with tokenism, or worse, invisibilised it”.

First published: 15 March 2018, 20:29 IST
Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Priyata thinks in words and delivers in pictures. The marriage of the two, she believes, is of utmost importance. Priyata joined the Catch team after working at Barcroft Media as a picture desk editor. Prior to that she was on the Output Desk of NDTV 24X7. At work Priyata is all about the news. Outside of it, she can't stay far enough. She immerses herself in stories through films, books and television shows. Oh, and she can eat. Like really.