Amol K Patil is a conceptual and performance artist. His ongoing work of excavations and investigations aims to recapture the pulsating, vibrating movements and sound of “chawl” architecture. Chawls are five-story structures specific to Mumbai that were built in the early 1900s and provided social housing for mill and factory workers.
Initially a visual artist, Patil later became interested in the intersection of performance art, kinetic and video installation. After discovering his affinity for performance art, he grappled to understand his father’s work as a theater activist. He encountered an old dictaphone tape recorder, a walkman, and cassettes filled with sounds and immigrant dialects that his father recorded for his avant-garde scripts on the dilemma of living in the city as a migrant. He also found songs handwritten by his poet grandfather. The songs are rooted in a protest tradition called powada, that dates back to the seventeenth century. Much like rappers, the interpreters furiously spit out words, often criticizing the caste system. More recently, Patil has expanded his research on urbanization and the invisibility of the working class in emergent urban imagination. His project is to build a counter-memory and contesting narratives that describe and disturb the relationship between humans and landscapes.
Patil’s work has been shown at Yokohama Triennale (2020); Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai and New Delhi (2019); The Showroom, London (2018); Tensta konsthall, Stockholm (2017); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017); Pune Biennale Habit-Co-Habit (2017); New Galerie, Paris (2016); Dakar Biennale (2016); Myymälä2, Helsinki (2015); Japan Foundation, Delhi (2015); and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015).
Text by Zasha Colah