The Rise of Protests
The series is testament to the indefatigable spirit of the peoples who have returned, time and again, to march beside and stand in solidarity with those speaking truth to power.
In the expansive and ongoing series, The Rise of Protests (2019–ongoing), working primarily with oil on canvas, Vikrant has painstakingly developed an archive of imagery drawn from popular protests in the recent past, such as the anti-NRC and CAA movement, as well as excavated moments of Dalit activism and uprising which have been precluded from the telling of India’s history. Painted in rich chromatic hues and depicting gestural acts drenched with the current of the multitude, we stand witness to women, men, workers, and children raising their fists with slogans against majoritarian brutality. The habitus of protests—barricades, lathis, and bodies acting in concert—is rendered in granular detail. Here you will spot references to historic events studded in signboards or lettering on busts which pin the depictions to the specificity of each instance, culled by Vikrant from the silences of archives and gaps in records.
The series serves as a ledger of people’s history, an urgent remembrance of Dalit activism and courage in the face of upper-caste violence and power. It invokes thinkers and activists across time and geography in this effort, such as Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule, Ambedkar and Martin Luther King, whom Vikrant positions as the ‘pillars of equality’. The Rise of Protests also recalls spaces that celebrate the legacy of Dalit struggle—canvases present glimpses of publicness at crucial sites such as Chaitya Bhoomi and Rajgruha, an inventory of tools for dispersal of radical thinking.
Vikrant is reminding us to not turn away from the risk and precarity that is inherent today to taking on acts of dissent; with a sombre disquiet we admit the loss of many to the violence of caste and state power.