“The People of Afghanistan” and Other Projects on Photographic Archives.
In this talk Rajkamal Kahlon will focus on photography and archives and their impact and influence on her painting practice. In her work Kahlon recuperates drawing and painting as sights of aesthetic and political resistance.The lingering spectre of colonialism and the aesthetics of ethnography are continually brought into focus through her use of strategies of interruption and collage. Drawing on history, archives and literature, Kahlon's research submits archival resources to a process of creative transformation that resulting in sensual, humorous, formally rigorous artworks that address the reclamation of humanity for racialized, gendered and indigenous communities targeted for destruction. In using her own hand in redrawing and repainting the bodies of "native" subjects, Kahlon allows for the rehabilitation of those bodies, histories and cultures that have been distorted, erased or maligned.
Rajkamal Kahlon’s research-based practice resides at the intersection of visuality, violence, and colonial histories. Submitting historical and contemporary archives to a transformative process of deconstruction and intervention, the artist proposes painting as a strategy of rehabilitation and radical care. Kahlon appropriates a range of archival materials in her work—anthropology and travel books, historical treatises, medical records and military reports which premise a colonizer perspective. The artist confronts the problematic nature of her sources overlaying contemporary imagery and poignant portraiture atop the disassembled book pages. Through her visual address, she questions the narratives contained within these materials and reveals the racist subtexts and objectifications of the ethnic body found within. - Kelly Lindner
Rajkamal Kahlon (b. 1974, Auburn, California) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Berlin, Germany. Kahlon received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of California, Davis, and a Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Drawing from the California College of Arts. She is an alumna of Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York. As of October 1, 2021, Kahlon will be the new professor of painting at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, Germany.
Kahlon’s work has been exhibited internationally in biennials, including the 2012 Taipei Biennial, Meeting Points 7, and the 2nd Industrial Labin Biennial, Croatia and in museums, including Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Museo Universitario de’Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City. Recent major solo exhibitions include Weltmuseum Wien, Austria (2017-19), MEWO Kunsthalle, Germany (2019) and forthcoming solo projects scheduled at Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2022) and Kunstverein Konstanz (2022). Kahlon is the recipient of numerous grants, awards, and residencies including the 2019 Villa Romana Prize, the Joan Mitchell Painting and Sculpture Award, Pollock Krasner Award, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) National Security Project Artist-in-Residence, Melon Visiting Artist Fellowship, Newhouse Center, Wellesley College, the Berlin Artist Grant and the 2021 Hans and Lea Grundig Prize.