Rajkamal Kahlon

born 1974 in USA,
lives and works in Berlin.

Kahlon uses the media of drawing, collage, painting and performative installations. In her practice, the artist investigates different aspects of the history of colonialism and the logic of violence it involves. Working mainly with archival material that present non-European bodies, the artist tries to lay bare and break their violence  by means of different strategies, including humour and beauty.

“Did You Kiss the Dead Body?” is a series of ink drawings based on artist’s  analysis of reports from postmortem examinations of Iraqi and Afghan people detained in American prisons after the terrorist attack of 9/11 (they were made available online by American Civil Liberties Union in 2004 by virtue of the Freedom of Information Act). Kahlon contrasts the scholarly and impersonal language of the reports that serves to classify anonymous corp-ses according to their parameters, kinds of diseases and types of skin with emotional and highly detailed drawings of bodies; her pursuit is to reclaim the human dimension of their death. The title of the work is borrowed from the poem “Death” by Harold Pinter. The poet read it out during the Nobel Prize in Literature ceremony in 2005 as he spoke passionately against American involvement in the war in Iraq as well as the country’s foreign policy.

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