Kochi

Artist Sajan Mani wins ‘Berlin Art Prize’ for visual arts

A view of Sajan Mani’s exhibition titled ‘Alphabet of Touch >< Overstretched Bodies and Muted Howls for Songs’ at the Nome Gallery in Berlin last year.  

Intersectional artist Sajan Mani has won the prestigious Berlin Art Prize for visual arts, becoming the first Indian artist to win the honour.

Instituted by the Akademie der Künste in Berlin as an annual prize since 1971, it is bestowed on artistes and cultural practitioners in six categories. The award carries a cash component of €5,000 and a citation.

Mr. Mani, a native of Kannur, has been studying and practising art in Berlin for the past four years. He has used his body as a socio-political metaphor, a space where history and identity meet.

Hailing from a family of rubber tappers in Kannur, Mr. Mani seeks to use the ‘black Dalit body’ to portray the vastly varied, but obscured from the mainstream, experiences of the marginalised sections. His exhibition last year at the Nome Gallery in Berlin titled ‘Alphabet of Touch >< Overstretched Bodies and Muted Howls for Songs’ was noted for the multi-layered narration of his personal history interspersed with the intangible history of the Dalits spoken about by poet Poikayil Appachan.

“My body has been my medium and the effort is to explore it in a historical, temporal context,” Mr. Mani told The Hindu over phone from Berlin. “If in the 1960s and 1970s, performance art was primarily about testing the endurance of the body, today’s performative installations are all layered, with an artistic work built around it.”

He said he was humbled by the honour and that he had gone to Berlin, after completing BFA, to do MA in spatial strategies at Weißensee Kunsthochschule. After the completion of the course, he decided to stay back on a freelance artist visa.

One of his prominent works in Berlin was on ‘Political Yoga’ in which he chose to “explore the manifestations of social, cultural and geopolitical power dispositions reproduced in one’s own meditation and body practices”. The project also included a book and a workshop.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:44:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/artist-sajan-mani-wins-berlin-art-prize-for-visual-arts/article33663145.ece

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