Part of the International conference on Maharashtra in September 2021 - Noopur Desai, Asia Art Archive in India, New Delhi
The circulation of images in various forms and media, from reproductions in periodicals to exhibitions as well as construction of public sculptures, has played a crucial role in (re)shaping the aesthetic imagination as well as the public sphere in Maharashtra in the post-independence period. These have emerged as sites of construction for visual modernity in the region. By looking at the intersection of politics and aesthetics, this paper focuses on a case study of a biographical note on a Dalit sculptor Khanderao Sawant published in Manohar, one of the Marathi periodicals, capturing the manifestations of artistic engagements and political affiliations through understanding the process of building one of the early public sculptures of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. The paper aims to trace the emergence of iconic images of Dr. Ambedkar in the form of public sculptures by combining two important modes of circulation of ideas around Dalit identity formation and aesthetics. First, through the construction of a monumental public sculpture and development of visual iconography amid formation of urban aesthetic practices in the region. And second, the dissemination of these ideas through publication and circulation through periodicals, specifically in this instance, a literary periodical. Drawing on the art historical analyses of the regional discourse on modern art through the lens of circulation, the paper analyzes the formation of counterpublics by examining the interconnections between urban aesthetics and art writings.