Based in Kochi, Kerala, Jithinlal NR’s work focuses on visually representing the complexity of caste identity, drawing from his personal experiences of marginalisation. Through an investigative gaze on material processes, NR attempts to explore how societal structures deeply impact ideas about the self and extended cultures.
In his work, Spectral Speech, NR draws from the eponymous literary device that was used by well-known Dalit writer C. Ayyappan to fictionalise the stark realities of Dalit lives in the exploration of contemporary subaltern memory. In rendering speech “spectral” (and therefore, incorporeal), the device works to challenge normative ideas of perception. As NR puts it, spectral speech “happens in a kind of delirium, where you are neither at sleep nor fully awake”. Such a fictional machine enables non-linear, interstitial spaces to unfold through text that can potentially operate outside casteist economies and power structures. NR borrows this speculative device to create a series of work where he re-interrogates the notion of the spectral through drawings and collages premised on subject-formation with and beyond identitarian politics. The constitutive diagrams and pictograms play with the idea of transgression attendant to spectrality, and create shapes that speak affectively to concerns around caste oppression.