Kettling
for The Protest and The Recuperation
Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York
June – August 2021

Sreshta Rit Premnath takes an abstract and theoretical turn in his sculptural and two­
dimensional work based on “kettling,” a police tactic aimed at confining crowds
during protests. Informed by manuals on law-enforcement restraint, this new body of work is in many ways a sequel to Those Who Wait (2019), which considered the physical and psychological aspects of waiting. It was inspired by his participation in the New Sanctuary Coalition’s program Accompaniment in which American citizens volunteer to accompany people who are going through deportation proceedings to court. For Kettling, Premnath ·s investigation into individual and collective resilience to the state’s disregard for people they deem dispos­able or resistant shifts to the site of protest. While the bodies in Those Who Wait were slouched over the fence, those in Kettling are compressed by the physical forces of milita­rized police. Symbolic bodies of protestors are pressed against one another and pinned against hard metal approximating a physical barrier typical of crowd control. Here, the sister of despair—entrapment—is kines­thetically situational, not just an existential feeling. This choreography of compression is further explored in The Pot Calls the Kettle Black, Premnath’s series of black-and-white drawings of the diagrammatic patterns that police are taught for crowd control delivered in the language of artistic abstraction.

-Betti-Sue Hertz from her catalog essay for The Protest and the Recuperation

Essay by Alpesh Kantilal Patel and excerpts from catalog