Vijayalekshmi Ramachandran (PhD) is an Assistant Professor of English at the Department of Languages and Literature, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning, Andhra Pradesh, India. She was a recipient of the Junior Research Fellowship by the University Grants Commission and Matching Funds Tuition Grant by the School of Criticism and Theory, Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include multispecies curriculum designing and life-writing, ecological studies, popular culture studies, translation studies, and literary studies. Her publications include Past Modernism: Aesthetics and Science of the Everyday in Poornachandra Tejaswi and several essays.


Multispecies Modalities: Towards a Historiography of Posthuman Art from India, Southeast Asia, and Australia

Abstract: This paper examines illustrations, installations, sculptures, paintings, and photographs produced by contemporary artists from South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Rather than studying these works as part of the humanist heritage that constitutes the domain of high art, the study focuses on them because they are shaped in the crucible of an Anthropocenic posthuman sensibility where the boundaries across species and things, materials and modalities, genres and media, are deliberately redrawn in an(other) order of importance which is unprecedented in mainstream art historiography. While many cultural anthropologists are working on multispecies ethnography, multispecies modalities in art have not generated as much interest. Such a study requires changes in the perception of species, things, materials, modalities, genres, and media, based on the hierarchy of being that currently characterizes anthropocentric ontologies and epistemologies. This paper analyzes works by Smitha G. S. (an award-winning Indian painter), Ravi Agarwal (an Indian photographer, installation artist, and environmental campaigner), Therdkiat Wangwatcharakul (an award-winning painter from Thailand), Heri Dono (a multimodal artist from Indonesia), Zarina Muhammad (a mixed-media installation artist from Singapore), Robert Zhao Renhui (a Singaporean multidisciplinary artist and photographer), and Patricia Piccinini (an Australian sculptor of human-animal hybrids).
Keywords: posthumanism, art historiography, contemporary art, multispecies, India, Southeast Asia, Australia