b. 1982, Keralam, South India
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Sajan Mani is an intersectional artist hailing from a family of rubber tappers in a remote village in the northern part of Keralam, South India. His work voices the issues of marginalized and oppressed peoples of India, via the “Black Dalit body” of the artist. Mani’s performance practice insists upon embodied presence, confronting pain, shame, fear, and power. His personal tryst with his body as a meeting point of history and present opens onto “body” as socio-political metaphor.
Several of Mani’s performances employ the element of water to address ecological issues particularly related to the backwaters of Kerala, as well as to the common theme of migration. Some of his recent works consider the correspondence between animals and humans, and the politics of space. Unlearning Lessons from my Father (2018), made with the support of the Asia Art Archive, excavates the artist’s biography in relation to colonial history, botany, and material relations.
Sajan Mani has participated in international biennales, festivals, and exhibitions including “Specters of Communism”, at Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017); Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh (2016); Kampala Art Biennale, Uganda (2016); Kolkata International Performance Arts Festival (2014–16); and Vancouver Biennale, Canada (2014). In 2019–2021 he received the Fine Art Grant from Braunschweig Projects, an artistic research grant from the Berlin Senat, and the Akademie Schloss Solitude Fellowship in Germany. He has played a significant role in the development of the Kochi Biennale, leading the Malayalam editorial team, and writes on the contemporary art of South Asia for several cultural magazines.