Jitish Kallat. Public Notice

Video clip of Jitish Kallat discussing his work Public Notice 2 (2007) at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, March 2011. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC

In 2002 India saw one of its worst sectarian riots against the Muslim community in the post-independence era, leading Jitish Kallat to seriously read and question iconic political speeches that preceded and ultimately established the Indian nation-state in 1947. For the series “Public Notice” (2003–09), Kallat created three large-scale installations that invoke a physical relationship to language. In Public Notice 2 (2007), Mahatma Gandhi’s words on the eve of the Dandi March in 1930—invigorating protest against the colonial British salt tax—are spelled out using an alphabet made of resin-cast bones, as though to exhume his speech. Like other works Kallat has developed from historical texts, language produces an image and, at this scale, encompasses the viewer in a physical experience so that we might embody these words.1 As the artist hopes, “Given the kind of confrontational rhetoric we hear every day in our sort of terror-infected world, voices such as Ghandi’s become carriers of a message that could help us brave the follies of the current world.”2

  1. Jitish Kallat, in conversation with curator Suhanya Raffel at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, posted May 19, 2015, video, 5:01 minutes, available at youtube.com/watch?v=8uO3lNi_GBY. ↩︎

  2. Jitish Kallat, in “Jitish Kallat: Perspectives on Modern Art,” The Economist online, on the occasion of the exhibition The Empire Strikes Back: Indian Art Today at Saatchi Gallery, London, posted February 1, 2010, video, 5:03 minutes, available at youtube.com/watch?v=abrunEB08SA. ↩︎