Current Residency: Sri Vamsi Matta

Seeing You – Seeing Me, May 3rd, 4 – 5:30 p.m. at the Madison Public Library. Seeing You – Seeing Me is an audio-visual art presentation by Sri Vamsi Matta on the reversal of gaze in Indian Mainstream, how Dalit-Bahujan artists across time and space have flipped the gaze, and challenging the existing oppressive and gate kept bramhanical overview. This presentation will be followed by a conversation with Yashica Dutt about her book “Coming out as a Dalit.”

Yashica Dutt, the award-winning author of Coming Out as Dalit, is an internationally acclaimed Dalit journalist and among the most recognized global voices on caste. Dutt’s work has been published in the New York Times, Foreign Policy and The Atlantic, and she has been featured on the BBC, The Guardian and PBS Newshour.

‘Coming out as a Dalit ‘ was published in India in 2019 to acclaim, now the US expanded edition includes 2 new chapters covering how the caste system traveled to the US, its history here, and the continuation of bias by South Asian communities in professional sectors. Amid growing conversations about caste discrimination prompting US institutions including Harvard University, Brandeis University, the University of California system, and the NAACP to add caste as a protected category to their policies, Dutt’s work sheds essential light on the significant influence caste-ism has across many aspects of US society. Raw and affecting, Coming Out as Dalit brings a new audience of readers into a crucial conversation about embracing Dalit identity, offering a way to change the way people think about caste in their own communities and beyond

About the Artist

Artist-in-residence, Sri Vamsi Matta, wearing a blue suit with a red tie, in the style of B. R. Ambedkar, the Indian social reformer and political leader. Vamsi is posing in the Chazen Museum of Art in the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.

Sri Vamsi Matta, (Vamsi, he/him), is a Bangalore-based theatre actor, writer, and director. His practice is influenced by his Dalit identity, experience, and social location. The histories of his family and community inform the questions, topics, and mediums that Vamsi engages with through his work. His most recent traveling solo show performance, Come Eat With Me – an invitation to folks from all caste, faith, and race locations – has received a tremendous response in the national and regional media across India. His play, Star in the Sky about the institutional murder of a Dalit Ph.D. scholar in 2016, often seen as a moment of reckoning for Indian academia’s inherent caste biases, won second place at the prestigious Tata Literature Live! Sultan Padamsee Award For Playwriting Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Awards. While in Madison, Vamsi is excited to engage with UW Madison’s own reckoning with historic inequities and contributing to its present campus culture and goals of fostering a greater sense of inclusion and belonging through the arts.

News

  • Final Event Announced for UW–Madison Division of the Arts’ Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence, Sri Vamsi Matta

  • In case you missed it, here’s a taste of Come Eat With Me, a performance piece that unpacks questions of oppression and solidarity, grief and joy, and the everyday victories of the human spirit in the face of structural injustices.

  • Vamsi appeared on WORT FM’s “World View” on Sunday, October 15. Listen to the show online.

Events

There are no upcoming events.

Guest Artists

Nisha Abdulla

Nisha Abdulla is a Bangalore-based theatremaker practicing as playwright, director, dramaturg, and educator. Her anti-oppressive arts practice places care, curiosity, and community at the core of the creation process. She is Artistic Director of Qabila, where her work centers new writing around lived experience and the dissenting imagination. Nisha is a founder member of OffStream, an artist collective that makes and enables creative projects around anti-caste advocacy. Nisha also teaches at schools and universities, most recently at Azim Premji University (Bangalore) and NALSAR (Hyderabad).

Lakshmana KP

Lakshmana, founding member of Jangama Collective, is an actor, director, poet, and performance educator from Karnataka, India. He graduated from the Intercultural Theatre Institute Singapore in 2018 and from Ninasam Theatre Institute in 2012. Lakshman has been exploring questions around Dalit aesthetics in performance, and his two recent plays, We the People of India and Daklakatha Devikavya, explore intersecting questions about Dalit political modernity and cultural memory.

Afsar Mohammad

Afsar Mohammad is an acclaimed South Asianist working on the Hindu-Muslim relations in South India. His new book “Remaking History: 1948 Police Action and the Muslims of Hyderabad” (Cambridge University Press, 2023) focuses on the post-Partition developments in Hyderabad, India. Afsar explores the question of Muslim being and belonging in the wake of the turbulent consequences of the police action. His previous book “The Festival of Pirs: Popular Islam and Shared Devotion in South India,” (Oxford University press, 2013) was also well-received for its ethnography and theorization of local Islam. Now teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, Afsar has also received many prestigious awards for his creative writing in Telugu and English.

Dr. Brahma Prakash

Dr. Brahma Prakash is a writer, cultural theorist and an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He is the author of critically acclaimed book, Cultural Labour: Conceptualizing the ‘Folk Performance’ in India (Oxford University Press, 2019) and Body on the Barricades: Life, Art and Resistance in Contemporary India (LeftWord 2023). He has also published in various research journals, including Asian Theatre Journal, Performance Research, Theatre Research International, Economic and Political Weekly and others. He was a fellow at the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University, Germany (2021) and the CRASSH at Cambridge University, UK (2018-19). His popular columns on art, culture and politics frequently appear in Scroll, Wire, Outlook, Newsminute, Indian Cultural Forum and other media platforms. His opinions have also appeared in the BBC, Aljazeera, New Arab, Print and other popular podcasts in Hindi and English.

Rahee Punyashloka

Rahee Punyashloka is an artist, writer, researcher, and experimental filmmaker based out of Bhubaneswar and New Delhi. Working across disciplines, he seeks to illuminate the vastly unrepresented/underrepresented artistic history of the anti-caste struggle and the Dalit identity. He tries to create online interventions around the same under the moniker “artedkar.” His works have been exhibited in numerous venues including International Film Festival Rotterdam; Athens Video Art Festival; Tribeca Film Festival (New York); ARKIPEL (Jakarta); Ishara Art Foundation (Dubai); KHOJ (New Delhi); Museum of Art and Photography (Bangalore); Arts House (Melbourne), among others. His solo show, fieldnotes from begumpura, is currently on show at Pulp Society, New Delhi.

Shrujana Shridhar

Shrujana N Shridhar is an artist and illustrator based in Mumbai. Her practice examines the intersection of caste, gender, and capitalism. It honours the resilience of communities that fought caste and gender oppressions for centuries. The detailed and lively compositions in her works are inspired by the idea of community as safe spaces within the anti-caste movement. She employs vivid colour palettes to create tactile and organic perceptions. Her works have been published in magazines in India and abroad. Shrujana has written and illustrated children’s books. She runs the Dalit Panther Archive, digitizing and archiving Little Magazines and literature published by the members of the Dalit Panther movement. She is a co-founder of Maveli Nadu Collective, an anti-caste publication. She has received the SSAF–AAA Research Grant for Archiving Histories of Art, Ideas, and Visual Culture in 2019. Her works have been exhibited at Clark House Initiative, Mumbai, The Showroom, London, China Residencies at Centre for Media at Risk at the University of Pennsylvania, and Arts House, Melbourne. IG: @srujangatha

Maulikraj Shrimali

Maulikraj Shrimali is a dramatist, director, scholar, and Dalit artist-activist from India. He established the ‘Whistle Blower Theater Group’, an anti-caste theater troupe that uses a range of dramatic approaches to examine social and political issues in India.

He has written, directed, and performed plays that deal with issues including caste and gender inequality, communal violence, as well as rights of tribal communities for land, water, forests, and identity. He earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from H K Arts College, a master’s degree in development communication from the State University of Gujarat, and an MPhil in Diaspora studies from the Central University of Gujarat. His main areas of study are the theater techniques and educational strategies employed by the caste-oppressed people of South Asia.

He is looking at anti-caste and anti-race performances, diaspora theater communities, and protest arts to better understand the global oppressed theater movement. Caste studies, practice-based action research, social change and activism, Diaspora studies, Indigenous studies, Development Communication Studies, autoethnography, and self-transformation are some of his areas of interest. He is also a co-founder and editorial director of the anti-caste Indian publication firm “Lokvacha Publication.” He has also received a Mellon Cluster Fellowship to study “Comparative Race and Diaspora Studies.