Vedika Rampal

Vedika Rampal is an Indian-born artist who primarily lives and practices on Darug and Guringai land in Sydney, Australia. Her post-disciplinary practice intuitively oscillates between image and image forms, using the language of sculpture, textiles, photography and text to interrogate Western museological modalities enshrined in the colonial optics of centre/periphery spatial relations and linear temporalities.

Developing what she terms as a ‘poetics of (re)inscription,’ Rampal’s expanded practice uses a diverse range of materialities such as unfixed copper, coloured acrylic screens, jute, ceramics, fabric, and projected video-essays, to signify rather than stand-in for the histories, narratives, myths, and knowledges her work explores. These surfaces are often presented as screens, a substrate that can either be seen through or projected onto, evidencing circulatory processes of mark making which invariably frame or filter the viewer’s gaze. The apparent artifice of these chosen materials renders how Rampal turns to the past, not to possess a nostalgia for lost origins but rather to critically open-up the present to decolonisation.

In her larger installation works, Rampal often negotiates both the viewer’s accessibility and movement within the exhibition site. At times, the work is constructed in a way that a limited positionality is enforced, making impossible an all-encompassing viewpoint, whilst, in other installations, Rampal invites the viewer on a pilgrimage; a peripatetic encounter with the entirety of the space, enabling an immersive inter-sensory experience. Both these sites are as impermanent as they are iterative, echoing Rampal’s critical engagement with the colonial impulse to preserve artworks and artefacts by severing them from the very transient conditions of the cultures they are plundered from.

A recurring subtext to Rampal’s work is violence, the visible and invisible residues of the Empire, an infliction that collapses linear cartographies of history by seeping equally into a pre-colonial past as well as a post-colonial present. Drawing upon inherited memories, fictive imaginings and archival research, Rampal’s work reflects upon the duality of trauma and yearning, capture and resistance, loss and agency innate to these histories to suggest the simultaneity of counternarratives to imperial legacies. It is within this palimpsest of temporalities that the possibility of otherwise impossible life forms emerge for Rampal, indicative not only of endurance but are evident of what Ariella Azoulay denotes as ‘potential histories.’

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