Rajyashri Goody was born in 1990 in Pune, India. She gets her BA in Sociology at Fergusson College, Pune, and then an MA in Visual Anthropology: Sensory Media pathway at the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester. Rajyashri’s work spans themes of art as activism and popular imagery, particularly within the marginalized Dalit movement in India, and exploring connotations of identity and individualism in middle-class urban youth in India. She is invited for a one month residency at Bamboo Curtain Studio, under the “2015 International Residency Exchange” with KHOJ, India.
From a young age, she has been immersed in social activism towards one of India’s most shameful practices, that of untouchability within the caste system. Today this interest has developed into a long-term art project, where she combines multidisciplinary art practice, including photography, sound, video, and physical installations, and anthropological and social research to not only understand and spread knowledge about the practice of untouchability in India, but also find a way forward to demolish the practice, primarily through this very practice of community-based art work.
Rajyashri uses objects that are a part of daily life very actively in her work. In ‘Skyscape’, an installation created for KHOJ Refracting Rooms, she collected over 500 pairs of shoes from various sources and hung them all from the ceiling, creating a dark, heavy cloud of shoes. As a tactile interpretation of the position of the untouchable community in Indian society as described in holy Hindu texts, ‘Skyscape’ explored what it meant to be denied basic rights of access to basic resources such as food, water, electricity, and education, and, most significantly, to be denied the right to be treated as fellow human beings. Viewers were invited to stand inside the room, and their experiences ranged from that of feeling small, dirty, oppressed, and simultaneously an awakening, to come to grasps with how a large percentage of the Indian population has been living, surviving and dying for thousands of years.
At Bamboo Curtain Studio, Rajyashri’s art practice developed in a very significant manner, with an ongoing mixed media project and cultural exchange engaging with identity and self-representation in Taipei titled ‘Refresh/Reflect’. Through a series of ten intensive one-on-one video interviews and discussions with 25 year old Taiwanese youth about the political and personal interpretations of identity, interspersed with making Indian masala chai for them in their homes, and a vibrant culminating interactive installation made using the information gathered from these conversations stressing public participation, Rajyashri combined tools of anthropological research as well as themes of understanding and empathy to explore the web of multi-faceted identity, human relationships, codependence and harmony on a tangible level.
Bamboo Curtain Studio 2015 International Residency Exchange Project
Residency Exchange with: KHOJ International Artists' Association, India