What's On

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala

Curated by Vishal Kumaraswamy

Presented by Arts House 

Wednesday 3 April – Saturday 27 April 
Mon – Fri, 10.30am – 4.30pm
Sat, 11am – 4pm 
Closed Sun and Public Holidays


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

Assistance Animal
Companion Card
Quiet Space Available
Wheelchair Accessible

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala (‘from the depths of one being’) brings together Australian and international artists to examine histories of caste, migration, gender and sexuality through contemporary expression.  

Unfolding across the entirety of Arts House during Dalit History Month, ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala is a multi-format activation, featuring an exhibition, talks, screenings, communal meals and curator and accessible tours.   

Among the works of the exhibition are two new major commissions: ALAM / مَلَ ع and Caste-Pital.  

ALAM/ مَلَ ع by current Gertrude Contemporary studio artist, Elyas Alavi, is a large-scale sculptural work with videos and performances exploring Islamic ritual and marginalised queer identities.

Caste-Pital, from Sajan Mani – the first Indian to be awarded the Berlin Art Prize – is an expanded performance installation set between experiences of colonisation, missionary-led education and growing up in a Dalit community of rubber tappers, where latex is collected from rubber trees.

The exhibition also extends outside onto Queensberry and Errol Streets with Osheen Siva’s window commission, உயர்வு Uyirvu illustrating histories of resistance and futures filled with regenerative joy.

Tickets for the tours, meals, screenings and more will be available soon.

Elyas Alavi
Priyageetha Dia
Jagath Dheerasekara
Sajan Mani
Yaseera Moosa
Tabitha Percy
Osheen Siva
Peter Waples-Crowe

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala expands on the contextual framework of ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ Okkoota, held at Arts House in April 2023. 

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala is an expression of Arts House’s Equity—Builder.  


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.

Curatorial statement

ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ Okkoota introduced anti-caste curatorial practice interrogating social structure of caste with existing institutional hierarchies in Australia. I was engaged in drawing from the anti-caste movement and non-hierarchical ways of gathering to devise artistic interventions within contested spaces and investigate the process of building equity within individual-institution collaboration and partnership.

ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala responds to Babasaheb Ambedkar’s call to educate, agitate and organise by expanding the contextual framework to address complicated histories of migration & displacement, class, caste, indentureship, plantationcene and queer reclamations of socio-religious rituals.

In ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala, the book this exhibition borrows its title from, the author Devanooru Mahadeva employs metaphorical imagery to juxtapose the tenderness of Dalit imagination against the overwhelming brutality of lived experience. The book demands a sustained engagement from the reader and warrants multiple re-visits. This process of tying together the tenderness of trans-national artistic practices that are expansive in their presentation and encompass multiple contexts in ways that command your attention. Like ಒಕ್ಕೂಟ Okkoota, emerging, mid-career and established artists are presented on the same surface, one that is continuously reconfigured through the movement of bodies and histories through the entirety of Arts House. The flattening of hierarchies continues through several unconditional engagement opportunities over the course of the project for audiences across an exhibition, public program, talks, screenings, communal meals and multiple tours.

From the building’s exterior surfaces to the depths of its insides, ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala pulls the curtains back to reveal the churning of the institution’s insides as the program unfolds and leaves traces as divergent knowledge systems inhabit the spaces. Like the book, ಒಡಲಾಳ Odalala gently demands multiple visits for efficient digestion.

Image credit: Caste-pital, durational performance 9.30 hours, 2017, Haus der Kunst Munich, Photo by Marion Vogel, Courtesy of the artist and Haus der Kunst 

Image description: A figure, shot from above, sits and draws characters on a white surface.