Rajyashri Goody is from Pune, India, and her art practice is informed by her academic background in sociology and visual anthropology, as well as her Dalit roots. Dalit people have been treated as untouchable and impure for thousands of years, and many are still denied basic rights to land, food, water, and literacy. Goody is interested in how the caste system has been challenged by her family and larger community, and the cultivation of self-respect, confidence, and dignity as a personal and collective practice. Her work highlights how Dalit identity is being reclaimed and reinvented today through acts of everyday resistance, such as going to school, drinking water from public wells, falling in love, sharing a meal, rejecting Hinduism, and converting to other religions.
Dalit literary and photo archives are the backbone of Goody’s research. These sources of history making are particularly significant because access to these tools of documentation only opened up to her community in the 20th century. She builds upon this research with writing of her own, as well as sculptures made of ceramics and paper. She sees these materials as active carriers of a history that allows her to tap into a deeper understanding of what it means for her to be Dalit.
Goody has completed her BA in Sociology at Fergusson College, Pune (2011), and an MA in Visual Anthropology at the University of Manchester, UK (2013). She has presented her work at Clark House Initiative, Mumbai; Pulp Society, New Delhi; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa; Ishara Art Foundation, Dubai; The Showroom, London; Harvard University, Cambridge; Khoj International, New Delhi; One Shanthi Road, Bengaluru; and most recently, The Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna. Her work has also been presented at literature festivals in India.
Her previous residencies and fellowships include Art Omi, Ghent; ISCP, New York; Harvard University, Cambridge; Khoj International, New Delhi; Asia Culture Centre, Gwangju; Bamboo Curtain Studio, Taipei; Piramal Art Residency, Mumbai; and TIFA, Pune. In 2018, she was awarded the Emerging Artist Award by India Today.
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