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ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane

Curated by Vishal Kumaraswamy as part of PHOTO 2024

Presented by Arts House 
An official exhibition of PHOTO 2024 International Festival of Photography

Friday 1 March – Saturday 27 April 
Mon – Fri, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Sat, 11am – 4pm
Closed Sun and Public Holidays

Community Opening Event 
Sat 2 March, 2pm – 4pm

Curator Talk + Tour 
Thurs 21 March, 6:30pm
Auslan Interpreting available. Please reserve an Auslan ticket by Monday 18 March. 


Arts House
North Melbourne Town Hall
521 Queensberry St,
North Melbourne

Assistance Animal
Companion Card
Quiet Space Available
Wheelchair Accessible

Hypnotic and subversive voices from South Asia. 

ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane (‘the act of seeing’) showcases a range of traditional and expanded image-making practices from South Asia and the diaspora.

Across more than 150 pieces, this free exhibition presents works that arise from the margins – both in context and in form – and examines how redistributing the power of the gaze can be an act of building equity.

Foregrounding forgotten or overlooked lived experiences in South Asia, ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane traverses themes of domesticity, belonging and landscape, drawing parallels between notions of purity within social hierarchies and photographic practices.  

ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane references the disappearing of bodies and practices during the formation of dominant narratives, and advocates for a thorough re-examination of contemporary visual culture in South Asia. 

Arun Vijai Mathavan  
Jaisingh Nageswaran 
Krithika Sriram 
M. Palani Kumar
Priya Suresh Kambli
Sadia Marium 

Special Events

Alongside the exhibition, ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane comprises two special events. Both are free and all are welcome. 

Community Opening Event 
Sat 2 March, 2pm  

Join the Arts House team as we toast the opening of ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣ nireekshane at a special community opening event. Enjoy an afternoon exploring the exhibition with an introduction to the spaces and artworks. Drinks and nibbles provided. 

Book now

Curator Talk + Tour 
Thurs 21 March, 6:30pm 

Join curator Vishal Kumaraswamy for a special guided tour and talk as he teases apart key themes in the exhibiting works of ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane, illuminating the cultural references and microhistories present in each of the artists’ works, as well as the broader curatorial vision. This will be followed by an informal Q&A at the venue.  

Book now

Auslan Interpreting available. Please reserve an Auslan ticket by Monday 18 March.


About the artists

Vishal Kumaraswamy
Vishal Kumaraswamy is an artist-curator working across text, film, sound, performance and computational arts. His practice draws from his Dalit heritage to investigate a range of critical concerns around caste, race and technology. His works have been shown at the Venice Biennale’s Research Pavilion, ARKO Art & Tech Festival, SITE Gallery Sheffield, Contemporary Calgary, HKW Berlin and the Rencontres d'Arles 2023.

Vishal has been an artist in residence with the US Consulate General Mumbai, Contemporary Calgary in Alberta, SAVAC Toronto, Vital Capacities videoclub UK, Onassis AiR and The Singapore Art Museum. Vishal is the founder of the international artist collective; Now You Have Authority through which he has curated exhibitions, residencies, and delivered workshops at the Tate Modern’s Tate Exchange Programme, Tanzfest Aarau and Sluice Biennial. Vishal lives & works in Bengaluru, India.

Arun Vijai Mathavan
Arun Vijai Mathavan is from Kanyakumari, India. He graduated as a Photographer and Designer from National Institute of Design.

Arun's work focuses on social and environmental issues, particularly the Indian caste system. He worked on a research study that helped in the rediscovery of the history of Indian photography. Currently situated in Bengaluru, he works as an experience designer and continues long-term photo projects regarding his family.

Jaisingh Nageswaran
Jaisingh Nageswaran is a self-taught photographer from Vadipatti village, Tamil Nadu, India. Born to working-class parents, he was educated by his grandmother at home.

Jaisingh’s work revolves around showing the lives of socially marginalised communities, exploring themes of gender identity, caste discrimination, and issues of rural life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he returned to his hometown where he is now turning his lens inwards to shed light on the everyday and historic acts of Dalit resistance and resilience through documenting his own childhood memories and tracing his family histories across four generations.

His works have been part of various solo and group shows in India and internationally. In 2020, he became a grantee of the Serendipity Arts Foundation and recipient of Les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles grant. In 2021, he became a Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice Fellow. His project “I Feel Like a Fish” was exhibited at the 13th African Biennale of Photography in 2023. The same year, he won the Grand Prix KG+ select in the Kyotography Festival (Japan), participated in the Khoj Curatorial Intensive South Asia Fellowship (India), and received the Musée du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac Photography award (France).

Krithika Sriram
Krithika Sriram is an Indian visual artist based in Bangalore, Karnataka. Her work stems from her interest in Identity Politics and subaltern cultural narratives. Krithika uses various photographic techniques to explore concepts of Self, identity, and personal history.

Palani Kumar
Hailing from the village of Jawaharlalpuram in Madurai district, M Palani Kumar decided to pursue engineering as per the wish of his mother, a fish seller. He graduated with B.E., E&I under the sports category. In 2013, while he was still pursuing engineering, he applied for a loan and purchased his first camera.

He worked as a cinematographer for the critically acclaimed documentary [Kakoos] – a searing narrative on the lives of manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu. In a couple of years, Kumar put together his first photography exhibition - Naanum oru Kullanthai (I am a child too) in Chennai, featuring photographs of the children of manual scavengers.

Since 2019, as a fellow of PARI, Kumar is currently documenting the lives of working-class women across India. Kumar is also associated with Pep Collective - a Forum of socially responsible photographers in Tamil Nadu.

He was recognized as one of the ‘Top Ten Humans 2019’ by Ananda Vikatan - a widely recognized Tamil Magazine, for his attempt to sensitize and visibilise the work of manual scavengers to an otherwise desensitized world. In March 2020, he received the ‘Best Story of the Year - 2020’ award from the Public Relations Council of India. In 2022, he received award from Zee Tamil’s ‘Tamizha Tamizha Award’.

He received the Amplify grant in 2021. In November 2020, he received the Imagining the Nation State grant from Chennai photo biennale, and in October 2020, The Samyak Drishti and Photo South Asia Grant. In 2022, he received the first Hasselblad Award-winning photographer Dayanita Singh- PARI Documentary Photography Award.

Kumar hopes to continue using his art form to bring to light, the lives, celebrations, and struggles of marginalized communities which are often neglected.

Priya Kambli
Priya Suresh Kambli received her BFA at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette and an MFA from the University of Houston. She is currently Professor of Art at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri.

Kambli’s work inadvertently examines the question asked by her son Kavi at age three; did she belong to two different worlds, since she spoke two different languages? The essence of his question continues to be a driving force in her art making. In her work, Kambli has always strived to understand the formation and erasure of identity that is an inevitable part of the migrant experience, exploring the resulting fragmentation of family, identity, and culture.

Sadia Marium
Sadia Marium dreamt of being a filmmaker, worked as a Merchandiser, and at present an independent photographer based in Dhaka & Chattogram. Sadia’s practice pollinates the process of creating photographs, books, videos, and alternative printing methods. The question of ‘Intrusion’ in photography intrigues her the most. Ordinary characters, unremarkable memories, spaces, and objects are the protagonists of her works in tracing the overlap of reality & fiction, private & public. Sadia’s interest in geopolitics & border discourse, role of narratives in creating memory are shaping her recent and new works. She is one of the founding members of ‘Kaali Collective.

Curatorial statement

The word ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane is a Kannada word with many interconnected meanings, the most accessible of which is 'the act of seeing'. Among its other meanings, it can be used to mean 'a detailed critical inspection', immediately suggesting a generally understood notion of authority bestowed upon an individual to conduct this inspection from the outside. ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane is also used to encourage introspection, and quiet reflection. Perhaps its most imaginative use is to signify the creation of a mental image, a potent tool for visualisation, one that creates a bridge connection between an internal and external reality. And yet for a word with such deep multiplicity of meaning, in its pronunciation it places emphasis on the sound 'ksha' in the third syllable, a sound with highly contested origins and complex presence across different Kannada dialects.

The exhibition unfolds from inside the scaffolding of this word denoting a wide spectrum of the act of seeing, of a slowly shifting gaze moving along a hitherto unseen horizon demarcating perceivable realities from invisible ones. The works of each artist in the show span a selection across their practice, some presenting the proximity to an accessible visual language while others hint at vernaculars from faraway lands with shared histories. Activated through the dialogue between their works, the exhibition comes into focus through apertures of Caste, Language, Family and Communal Histories. Allowing for multiple entry points into the works spread across the two studios, ನಿರೀಕ್ಷಣೆ nireekshane - the act of seeing allows us to observe these practices as they come into contact with each other resisting assimilation to offer a rich lexicon of visual culture from the South Asian subcontinent.

Image credit: Millenia of Oppression, 2016, Arun Vijai Mathavan

Image Description: A wooden cupboard with square shelves sits on bricks outside. There is a sunset in the background. The shelves have pigeons on them, sometimes two to a shelf.