Center for Art,
Research and Alliances
09 – 10 December, 2023

The Ambedkar Age Digital Bookmobile

Publication Cover

The Ambedkar Age Digital Bookmobile will be on view at CARA from Saturday, December 9 to Sunday, December 10, with a walk-through of the bookmobile with artists Smita Rajmane and Somnath Waghmare on December 10 at 4pm.

The Ambedkar Digital Bookmobile is a project conceived by public intervention artist, performer, and educator Smita Rajmane and documentary filmmaker Somnath Waghmare. Named after B.R. Ambedkar—the social reformer who fought against caste discrimination and headed the drafting committee of the Constitution of India—the bookmobile aims to collect India’s long history of social reform in Maharashtra, accessing 400–500-year-old traditions of songwriting, performances, and poetry against caste-based exploitation and untouchability.

It is a history that speaks with multiple voices, seeking to document singers and artists who mostly hail from rural interiors and are not very well known around the urban spaces of Maharashtra. The singers have been singing anti-caste songs for many decades. The bookmobile project gathers documentation of these embodied histories of anti-caste resistance, and seeks to raise awareness around contemporary Dalit popular and political song-performances within the community.

With the aim of encouraging discussion and dialogue, the bookmobile has traveled to a variety of public spaces including educational institutions, community halls, gardens, and libraries in both urban and rural areas.

National Ambedkar Memorial, Delhi on the occasion of Dr B. R. Ambedkar's birth anniversary. Courtesy of the artists.
National Ambedkar Memorial, Delhi on the occasion of Dr B. R. Ambedkar's birth anniversary. Courtesy of the artists.

Imagining the ‘digital bookmobile’ as a portable multimedia archive with the potential to navigate distances and cultures of resistance with economical means, Smita and Somnath hope to catalyze new avenues of understanding and meaning around the documentation of ephemeral elements of performance, songs, and poetry. The bookmobile has been invited and displayed the archive in 12 public places and educational institutions.

Following its US debut at The Ambedkar Initiative at Barnard College and Columbia University’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, this presentation at CARA will be the bookmobile’s second public display in the United States.

Cover image: Amedkar Bookmobile installed at Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art

The Ambedkar Age Digital Bookmobile
On view December 9 + December 10.

Sunday, December 10 at 4pm
Artists Smita Rajmane and Somnath Waghmare will host a walk-through of the exhibit.
Free and open to the public. RSVP here.

We ask that visitors stay home if feeling sick, or have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. Testing before joining us at CARA if feeling symptomatic is strongly recommended. Masks will be available for free.

The closest wheelchair accessible subway is 14th St/8th Avenue station. The entry to CARA is ADA-compliant and our bookstore and galleries are barrier free throughout, with all gender, wheelchair accessible restrooms. CARA has wheelchairs available for guest use. Please request in advance via Service animals are welcome.