Crafting Subversion: DIY and Decolonial Print, exhibition at SOAS art gallery, 28 April - 3 September 2022

Pragya Dhital's picture

Date: 28 April - 3 September 2022

Venue: Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG (opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday 10.30 to 17.00, Thursday 10:30 to 20.00)


SOAS’s Brunei Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition by Pragya Dhital of DIY and decolonial print and the simple duplication technology used to produce it, with focus on the ‘Gestetner’ stencil duplicator.

Stencil duplicating involves copies being made from a cut-out, patterned or lettered sheet (a stencil), through which paint or ink is applied onto paper. Originally invented for office work, its potentialities were quickly seized by those involved in underground print production across the world, from writers of zines to producers of samizdat material.

With focus on literature produced in pre and post Independence India, the exhibition explores various attempts to forge connections between readers and writers beyond the purview of the state and the logic of the market through the medium of DIY print. The Indian literature is contextualized with reference to material from a wide range of archives, produced using low-tech printing and duplication processes.

The exhibition includes material from Asia Art Archive; Bruce Castle Museum’s Gestetner archives; pamphlets from the British Library’s collection of publications proscribed in colonial India; literature collected by Ram Dutt Tripathi, a former BBC journalist who was imprisoned during the Indian Emergency of 1975-77, and now digitised by the University of Goettingen’s Long Emergency project; little magazines edited by the poet and translator, Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, and other publications from UCL’s collections of small press and samizdat literature, and an animated facsimile by Raqs Media Collective. 

The exhibition emerges from Pragya’s research on censorship in India during the colonial period and internal Emergency, and wider interest in print history and experimental literature. For further information about the exhibition or any of these activities please contact her on:

Funded by the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies and supported by UCL Department of History. Poster design by Fraser Muggeridge Studio.

Documents in the exhibition have been kindly borrowed and/ or reproduced from the University of Göttingen, the Asia Art Archive and the British Library.

Please note that this exhibition contains language that may cause offence.