While culture and heritage are etymological to any land, these are often interwoven with rather sinister versions of identity politics that operate on hierarchical oppression. Our echo-chambers cast an image of an idealistic society where tradition is sold as a ticket to utopia and often co-opted by privileged members of society to distance themselves from ‘whiteness’.
In reality traditionalism especially in South Asia and diasporic communities can be used to mask oppression that trickles down across generations; conditioning new lives using ritualistic practices that apparently flow from the ‘wisdom’ of ancient texts to forward oppressive narratives of caste and gender.
A young artist Jose portrays this interplay through an artwork named ‘Shed tradition or watch it burn you from the inside’. Using intricate detailing to communicate a larger idea; the piece attempts to capture a moment of breaking free from dogma and calling for others to join in.
It also presents an intelligent use of native aesthetics, taken from the artist’s home state of Kerala. Piecing together elements such as the naalukettu (a traditional house that symbolises the world of the old) and the mullappoo (jasmine flowers worn by women in their hair) to drive home the struggle for freedom.
Jose is a non-binary illustrator who aims to bring overlooked life experiences to the forefront of mainstream discourse. These primarily highlight themes of gender and mental health, further questioning accepted perspectives in society through a radical gaze devoid of hierarchies.
Explore Jose’s work here.
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