What Was To Pass, Remained
September 23, 2022 6:00 pm - November 23, 2022 8:00 pm
In India, over 80 million people are classified as Scheduled Tribes and around 110 million people as De-Notified Tribes-communities that were ‘notified’ as born criminals by the colonial Criminal Tribes Act. These are amongst the most precarious populations in the subcontinent, working as manual, agricultural and construction workers, performers, sex workers and street entertainers at the margins of India’s informal economy. Their poverty is compounded by the stigma associated with their identities and, for DNT groups in particular, by the brand of criminality. The devastating pandemic in India brought specific challenges to its most vulnerable populations. During the first wave, DNT and Adivasi communities suffered from the disastrous effects of an unannounced lockdown when, with four hours’ notice, millions of precarious people were left to fend for themselves.
During the second wave, with a shortfall of oxygen, vaccines, medicines and wood to burn the dead, the virus was left to spread to rural areas and urban slums, where people died without diagnosis or care. Yet the suffering of India’s poor has been rapidly obliterated from public memory. Most reporting focused on national centres with little known about the margins, other than images that people themselves produced and circulated through social media. This exhibition, and the project it originates from, engage with these representations, creating the possibility for shared memory.
The exhibition raised some important questions:
How do we remember our losses? How do we remember that which we have not seen? The suffering which has been erased? How do we mourn those losses that have not been acknowledged?
Conflictorium collaborated with Budhan Theater and Bhasha Research Center, supported by the University of Leicester, for an exhibition articulating a brief history of denotified and Adivasi tribes through the Covid pandemic.
The exhibition was the outcome of an ambitious community-led project by Budhan and Bhasha that, since the beginning of the pandemic, documented the lockdown and post-lockdown experiences of DNT and Adivasi communities through the arts.