Rajkamal Kahlon

Unstable Vision (2012)

The racist theories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries required visible proof of their supposed scientific basis. In her work, Rajkamon Kahlon explores how images were implicated in this process. She addresses the photographic archive of German biological anthropologist Egon von Eickstedt, one of the leading figures of Nazi race theory.

In 1924, Eickstedt traveled to India to measure, photograph, and study the Adivasi, indigenous tribal communities who comprise eight to nine percent of India’s population and whose ancestors may have lived in India before others migrated there. Eickstedt created over 12,000 photographs on his travels, which he used to “prove” his theories.

Kahlon's large-scale graphite drawing juxtaposes Eickstedt’s body in a colonial outfit with the head of a man he photographed, fusing the image of the colonized with that of the colonizer.

Rajkamal Kahlon (1974, USA) is an artist whose research-based practice resides at the intersection of visuality, violence, and colonial histories. Kahlon proposes painting as a strategy of rehabilitation and radical care and appropriates a range of archival materials, questioning their narratives and racist subtexts. Her work has been exhibited internationally in biennials, including the 2012 Taipei Biennial; Meeting Points 7, Vienna; and the 2nd Industrial Biennial, Labin; and in museums, including Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp; Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw; Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporanéo, Mexico City. Recent major solo exhibitions include Weltmuseum Wien (2017–19) and MEWO Kunsthalle, Memmingen (2019). Forthcoming solo projects are scheduled at Framer Framed, Amsterdam (2022), and Kunstverein Konstanz (2022). She lives in Berlin.

Mixed-media installation

With the kind support of the Embassy of the United States of America in Vienna