Protest, my son
Sheela Gowda became fascinated by the interaction of the formerly nomadic Hakki Pikki people with city dwellers. In order to survive in the Indian metropolis of Bangalore (India), they make use of their so-called ‘tribal’ identity. Protesting against the demolition of their houses, they present themselves consciously as generic ‘tribal’ people in order to attract attention. In fact, these former huntergatherers are now merchants and skilled forgers of hunting trophies, such as the cow-horn chain hanging from the wall print that is sold to city dwellers as tiger claw. Gowda presents the Hakki Pikki in the smaller image in the way a tourist or an urbanite might see them: as cliché versions of various native peoples from America, Africa, and New Zealand. This exaggerated yet banal image of indigenous peoples then throws our gaze back to the bigger image of real people using those same clichés to try to prevent the loss of their homes.
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