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Shiva Statue

Shiva SiteThis picture from 2013 shows a 123 ft. Shiva statue built in 2002 on India’s west coast, part of a new genre of monumental statues proliferating virally since the economic reforms of the 1990s. A visitor takes pictures with his cellphone; local photographers (posing, left foreground) provide souvenir photographs printed by young women working behind the curtain of the defunct van on the right. Layers of newness and oldness are entangled here: not just in the cellphone, digital prints, and repurposed automobile, or the women’s public-yet-private occupation, but also in the use of concrete to build a Hindu icon at this scale and – crucially – in an outdoor public space. The term “new media” usually connotes digital technologies, mass address, virtuality, and sudden, radical transformations in the modi operandi of publics. But “new” media regimes necessarily form circuits with “old” ones, at heterogeneous speeds and scales. I’m interested in such assemblages: particularly the territorialized, below-the-line assemblages caught up in the slow, recalcitrant problematics of effecting social mobility and constituting inclusive, expansive political publics across caste, class and religious difference.


Participant: Kajri Jain
Dept. of Visual Studies/Art History | University of Toronto
Presentation: "Gods in the Time of Automobility"