Performance Art: Nov-Dec 2004

Given that India boasts a rich and fertile tradition of dance and theatre...
Performance Art
KHOJ Studios, New Delhi
Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Given that India boasts a rich and fertile tradition of dance and theatre, it is interesting that the move towards performance in the visual arts has not been particularly palpable. The 2004 International Residency at KHOJ explored an art form that continues to raise eyebrows and throw up questions about the nature of art practice. The artists in residence from Jakarta, Belo HoriZonte, Brazil, Amsterdam and Mumbai came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from theatre to studio-based performance. It was an intense period of working together, towards exploring notions of body, materials, space and time.

Artist Projects

Performance Art by any notion is very permissive in allowing a multi-trajectory route towards itself and this symptom was displayed at the open day. While some artists preferred a surgically precise orchestration of the space...a process which started upto 3 weeks before the performance with a careful curation of the surfaces / spaces and props, some such as Reza came to this much later, approaching it as less as 3 hours before the performance.

Performance Art Residency Nov - Dec 2004

Residency Details

The winter months are choc a bloc full with exhibition openings around town and the residency gang had a colorful time seeing the popular works in the country. Major Exhibitions that occurred during this time Johann Pijnappel's Video art show at the Lalit kala / "Bombay Boys" at the Palette gallery and a solo show of Bose Krishnamachari at the Qutab hotel.

Apart from these out-takes the group had an inaugural presentation at the KHOJ Studios and did a re-take of the same in a more formal assembly at the School of Arts and Aesthetics .JNU.

The group also did series of self curated performances at the KHOJ Guesthouse where they were lodged around the theme of "Body to Beautiful" - a superficially innocent advertising slogan which was caught on Television and re-interpreted in an evening of performances with the only audience being the group itself. The session concluded with very thought out, honest and sincere crits on each other's work. With the exception of Reza the language and the compositional elements used in the session went on to form a solid base for their final works which were to take shape on the Open Day. Reza in fact formalized his very strong performance at the guesthouse at a pre open day session that was held at Khoj involving the same ambient qualities to produce a hyper meditative performance. He also hosted a "Red Rum Session" where open an invitation was sent to everyone for a solo slide party offering his entire works in full uninterrupted display with full stereo sound along with Rum and Coke.

The public session of "Body to Beautiful" witnessed reenactments of the Guesthouse session at the Khoj studios. Tejal's performance worked very well in the studio surroundings as it involved a projection of a close disorienting grained out split colored footage of her Pubic hair with exercise like body actions occurring in front. Marco's and Monali's sessions were really intimate and stood out differently with their slowed down impact. This session also was followed by an intense discussion on notions of Body and the achievable spatial relations using it.

Saumya's performance inspired quite a different reaction from the intended pathos to a near hysteria. But the largely artist audience maintained a calm face which was pointed out to him in the discussion that followed.

Monali's stint at the Marina Abramovic workshop also led her to bring in certain inspired and felt methodology into the entire proceedings. From what started as basic body cleansing rituals through exercises and conditioned food intake into boiled home made recipes.... the body cleansing project tied down the group well and achieved general internal good energy apart from preparing those who partook in it.

Collaborative projects always are unpredictable bonuses that arise out of shared understanding among the artists. In this case as well the Body Cleansing session group generated good chemistry and a better understanding of each other's personalities to spawn 2 collaborative sessions.

The first collaboration between Marco and Monali which was rehearsed aimed towards a "live action" at a pedestrian subterranean crossing brought out a very metaphorical rendition of the north south divide as the subway connected part 1 and 2 of the south extension area of New Delhi and with the performance starting at the part 1 plus, halted by the Police for causing a crowd gathering. The performance itself comprised of Monali and Marco interchanging their mother tongue to sing songs in each others language dressed in a semi mime appearance of being entirely clad in black covered by brown paper bags. Visually in the dimly lit passage the performance acted as an innocent intervention in to the public sphere.

The Second collaboration which transpired between Marco and Tejal Shah was a critically constituted video piece displayed on two facing vertically positioned television screens on the open day, enacted problems of gender stereotypes displayed using stereotypes of gender like facial hair, jewellery, body adornments etc. Composed over a period of two weeks with carefully marked camera and sunlight time locations it involved the capturing of the physical alterations of both the constituent artists, which was also in process via the body cleansing process. Specific curatorial devises included Marco not shaving for a week or Tejal hiring a make up artist from National school of Drama to implement her temporal gender transformations.

Marco Paulo Rolla


Definitely the liveliest person in the group. Trained as a musician and a visual artist Marco's performances had seriously matured from simple shock value sessions, which subverted the immediate obvious situation at hand into a caricaturist hypothetic underbelly of itself.

His previous installations also shared the same aesthetic of using pretty icons to render intensely disturbing imagery. The primary work he did at Khoj was an evolution of prior practice and the two initial episodes of this narrative employed similar shrinkages of spaces into strategically chiseled translucent situational tunnels of emotional inferences. The final Performance pieces were very painterly, shadowing into each other within the compositional iconographies. Marco's compositions marked a vital usage of performance art to accommodate dimensional jig sawing similar to a rubric's cube.

"Body Extensions" was one of the most intensive performance sessions on the Open Day Evening. Marco's carefully orchestrated studio acted as a jinxed out multi dimensional space with a variety of urban iconographies like discarded Television sets, and other electronic gadgetry "strewn" around, some obliterated by years of misuse and sessions of ravaging by electro junk hunters. He had constructed a serious apparatus using wall plug stands, which could just about support one foot. Naked and clad in just a rock climbers waist harness, armed with extra rope and karabiners he proceeded on a visually painful series of repetitive journeys from floor level to various junction points on the wall, each time picking one of the strewn objects which were pre-connected to a power cable and this he would first connect to power socket and then take over to far flung point on the wall across the room. This action repeated a number of times, rearranged the chaos from the time when the performance started, into a completely different spatial logic. Accentuated by a mechanically resonating jerky sound, Marco's gesture of display, exaggerated by the connection between the body in it's post industrial environs was a phenomenally arresting presentation.

Hemant Sreekumar


Marco Paulo Rolla  

“Body Extensions”

The main issue of my visual work is a reflection on human existence and its daily relation with the energy of life, and with its desire that has more recently been deformed and directed by the technological market.

I come from multiple backgrounds, swinging from music to fine arts and in between taking part in collaborations with dancers and theater artists. So performance came along as a natural media to move in and relate with the other disciplines I work with such as drawing, painting, video and ceramics.

Today, all over the globe, technology is as much a part of life as food and sex. Computers, internet, mobile phones, laptops, televisions and all sorts of electronic equipment build up a virtual layer in life. The human body is no longer able to live naked in a space. It has become addicted to the electric objects that were born with the industrial revolution in the 19th century and its development after the 2nd world war. Now in the 21st century we are facing a body that is both emotionally and physically dependent on electronic extensions.

The urban body wakes up with a digital alarm clock, showers in an electric douche, makes coffee in an electric coffee machine and drives a car to get anywhere. The mobile is never off and the laptop always within reach. At the end of the day this body kills its last hours in front of the TV, looking to the latest news in the world and eating home delivered fast food warmed by microwaves. Every day this is a reality for many people, the body does not know how to exist out of the system, The “play” is directed by the capitalist market and every day creates a new desire. The body forgets its basic needs and lets them pass, blind, it doesn’t notice the mechanical desire.

“Body Extensions” is a performance where I want to relate the human body, electronics, daily objects and food taking them out of reality. Developing a kind of ritual/action displacing functions and bringing symbolic values up. “Body Extensions” tries to create the complexity of life today, where sometimes we can even forget our body and have difficulties understanding its desires.


Collaborations“South Extensions”

Brasil /India, bossa nova/ Hindi filme songs. This collaboration came to me when I knew I would be working with Monali Meher during the performance-based residency. The idea of using musicality to create an invisible bridge between our two countries was very appealing.

The proposal was that I and Monali should learn a song from each one of our countries. By singing them for a long time and using improvisation we wanted to create new rhythm and melodic games. One song melts into the other as ananas and mangos, caju fruits and guavas in the past, histories and legends from both countries travel from mouth to mouth. Later, we decided to place it in the site on the subway-walking link between two areas in New Delhi, South Extension Part I and South Extension Part II. A flux of people from south to south makes the tunnel a perfect symbolic site to explore. in addition its acoustic element provides an amplification of the voices and words allowing them to fill the space.

At the end it was a unusual experience as after 10 minutes of intervention at the subway lots of curious people stopped to see and hear the action untill the policeman would stop it with the no politeness, showing the unreal power they believe they possess over society and trying to convince us that that public space was threatened by the singing acts.

On a micro scale it imitates very real situations where many political powers try to prevent the south world from connecting strongly because, if it were to happen that could bring a new development and dissolution of power towards political and economical fields in the world.

Another important point of this happening is the fact that this brings to light the real possibilities of a performative piece. One can’t predetermine what is going to happen, particularly in a public space! That is what makes a performance work so alive, the tension of reality towards the action!


This work is a collaboration with Teijal Shah where using video we construct the trans…, formation, sexuality, site, mutation, figuration from one gender to its opposite.

Male and female, where is the limit?

The beard as a macho statement. Jewelry and make-up constructing the female sensuality and gestures. Two masks that operate as a cliché for the gendered society.

What is happens when male and female cross these boundaries?

We try to communicate and make possible a reflection, an exploration of the opposite sexual behavior as a possible affinity for a human sexual being. In two monitors, one in front of the other, where two faces mirror each other, a man and a woman, cross their original gender and making a transsexual looping.

What is the limit of human sexuality?

This work also touches upon the issue of identity. Does your appearance reflect the real you? Many people are born and are unable to realize what they would like to be, what is appropriate behaviour, sexuality or style of dressing. But there are also people that are born with the desires specific and clear, even if these are not what society believes they should be, and this becomes a problem in many countries across the world. Several societies cannot yet understand the rights of being just human, wishing, feeling, dealing and not judging or imposing. Religion, sex and culture can’t be dictated for anyone and it is what makes a strong identity, the liberty of being!

Monali Meher


Ex-Mumbai artist now settled in Amsterdam - Visual arts trained from Mumbai. JJ college ... residency at the Reich Akademie .. Student of Marina Abramovic in some regards . . . Monali's route of performance was more of a body enactment towards an atmospheric domination of the space in contestation.

Hers was an absolutely a-political and fairly uncritical yet forceful tryst between the body and it's confining architectonics forcing the audiences re-navigation within a new zone free from inherent notional characteristics. Her use of video tools followed in the same vein. Any special material curation done (mostly of the basic organic sorts) was used as props in the performance. A ritualistic aura was predominant and carefully preserved in all of her Performative works.

Monali's session had the largest studio space. All of the peripheral elements of the performance (3 television monitors with looped videos of Monali using the banana as a make up item on the face.... < a throwback to her " body to beautiful " session > + Photo Posters of embroidery like mehendi work done earlier at the studios and photographed to be extracted in the negative) were created previously. The Central primal performance enacted the title "But I was never a Bride" with her seated by the central width of the room, Mehendi applied on her breasts and a mike in front of her at face level resting on a opposing dual curved horizontal Microphone stand fastened on the wall behind her. Text scripted in mehendi on the glass window was thrown into the rooms creating a myriad linear network of shadows by the exterior passage lights enacting a subliminal grotto-like vibe within.

Hemant Sreekumar



A need to reshape belongings and change the nature of substance, a dialogue of matter and memory to create and animate, hybridization of different materials from various cultures or shaping the social, cultural elements of the immediate surroundings as a tool to reflect back as well as to start a new dialogue and to improve the ability to cope up or deal with the new surrounding in order to get back to my own self and awareness of senses, all these constitute the language of my work.

My performances/ installations are atmospheric and meant to be part of it and experience it. They are ritualistic and show the cyclical circles of destruction and renewal as well as formal and conceptual ideas and framework of personal references that inform the fragile divide between my life and art.

While struggling to get adjusted to the new surrounding which has been created and at the same time coming to a realization of the changing identity, specially in these short visits to my origins, encourages me to open myself up and use my body and spirit to communicate the personal memories of longing and belonging, while simultaneously commenting on female stereotyping within Indian society.

I use Mehendi (Henna) in an unconventional and individual ritualistic way to celebrate the body and its surrounding space as a reference to the marriage and its ceremonial aspect to bridge the past and present. The videos are part of my work process here and the distorted sound of the harmonium brings back to me a nostalgia for certain spaces of particular times.

The performance is image based with the repetitive (Chanting) of pauses and stretches creating a certain anxiety and a developing curiosity about the end and the beginning!

The element of the past as a quantity of time is of significance. To be able to record and replay time frames and juxtapose real time with mediated time is a vital area of the work.

Reza Afsina

Very NEW [in] DELHI

Moonlighting occasionally as a DJ in Jakarta, Reza's practice involved exhibiting his body as a valid and viable mainframe to pull connections into notions and thought patterns. He was able to use the human body's ingrained ability to adapt and explore different forms that could telecast different connections and symbological energies.

His ultimate aim was to realize the transmission of memory to the audience even if it involved playing mind games with the self. The artist himself came from a filmmaking + sound recording background and displayed a very dramatic imagination especially in his prior works like "Victoria the Victorian" and predominantly had a visually arresting comment on the human condition. Reza's sensibility was both sensitive and intimate.

Most of Reza's hours were absorbed in heavy "popular media" consumption and the final performance itself was constructed as a cathartic purging of the same using minimal props comprised of computer speakers, a bathtub, sticky cellophane strip and strips of birthday wrapping paper. The Performance consisted of baritone classical affected outpourings from the speakers that created a European celebratory mood, while he was cocooned in the bathtub wrapped with cellophane and wrapping paper. The audience did not see the moment when he squiggled his way in and an assistant taped the miniscule slit through which this was achieved. The performance - marked from the time the audience navigation started into the studio consisted of Reza escaping the cocoon-like confines of the bathtub ... displacing it in the process and extracting the body out by slicing through the cellophane sheet.

Hemant Sreekumar

Artist's statement
Reza Afisina

Very NEW [in] DELHI

“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,”(1 JOHN, 3-11)

What shall more to be learned from the notification of GATHERING – to give and to know each other well, with compromising wisely attitude and good thoughts, just like a simple thought before about the idea of surrender in any motions, controlled the emotion for gaining adaptation and a soul to sound for reaching a deep contact, and indeed for once there has to be pause another memory.

Had this for long the main structure that always controlled physically, and this noticeable for each particular part of distance between objects from an area of land become more occupied by a person, as a human, or things, that should be properly and for sure must be suitable, which wanted to gives another meaning in, space.

What about our structure?

As for long, bodies are always occupied.Many systems are used to stating size and quantities or degree of measurement for some necessary amount and sometimes to comparing the dimensions.

What we knew already are about the function around how that the two-dimensional and three-dimensional are much effected since the area of visual born and know there’s a smart configuration comes as audio-visual, which always could be direct printed and witnesses in such a, real-time.

By these the idea of permanent within the works of the body or structure are ‘naturally’ created and once again the body structures could receive the alter thought of becoming immortal.

And now, almost in every playground the audio and visual are totally attached as a helping devices to make another rules of communication among the spirit of unknown forms and by these, the ‘area’ of ‘space’ sometimes are only a surface of measurement just to know exactly how a body,As a main part of physical structure, could have such range of activities and manageable times.

And there’s also the point of questioning about the mutual combination around the body, mind and soul.

A mind, is taking control of memory to not forget how to remember, this is the way of what a person thinks or feels, it’s conquer the area of thinking, feel doubtful and could be change one’s decision, to know what one’s want and come to another decision. As far as could said this is the Mental Ability of human being and a body already occupied it.

As a soul as a non-material part of living things, but for human being this could be a part of believed to exist forever. For some cases the soul has put into one’s work as emotionally and intellectual energy and might be regarded as an ideal inner thing’s.

So far for believing something that’s not only a pot which had round-vessel that could holds liquids and solids, but for sure a body works are more manageable and much more dynamic than thinking about the city structure.

This in sometimes the area of ‘creation’ comes up as unconsciousness to the source of development to retarded the systematic proportion.And for the body as always as a main frame, for each structure which has already their own living and so on the action came from the scenery of plexus major, which went forth since the beginning.

A body, a physical structure, a mainframe, main part of an occupied and an organized area, are also the core to the unspoken communicative action.With or without consideration the whole of works from a body sometimes suddenly become motionless and there’s no good communication around that connection, physically and mentally, and this such of particular proportion also trigger some action of instinctive persona and by this also could create the idea of beauty and even evil.

The frame work of an occupied area, which also the gesture that created many of adaptation within the area itself become another ‘space’ and it’s a total responsibility to always occupied the space, considering or not, because the main connection has already in the mutual collaboration with mind and soul, so the existence of the space are physical structure and for there’s a time that could be more strange than that.

That’s why the physical appearances always could become the object of memory from the sensual of illusions, desire to betrayed or to live as another of being recognized, to which the very own existence and to substitutes for being others.

With every located substances of personal gesture become private material with also its physical manifestation, and for that’s why an action can be silence.

Communication has also direct relation for interactive motive in every action and re-action and that’s existence could always be executed in front of the other being directly, as considering this element become an idea of physic environment that also create a market-gesture in every establishment.As something to remember, any life on earth has been brought within the range of technical possibilities.

Every system necessarily depends on its energy content and it becoming mass, considering the fateful importance for the survival of human life within this theory of energy equal mass times the speed of light squared.And by this also could represent the idea of ‘beauty’ for everything in life and since the energy been given, so on there’s a ‘market’ to provide and to collects all of the energy that released.

And for a body always there’s mixtures of differences which more modern than a city or a market gesture and with all transformation and formats are always amazing and mentalities as a system of images, a system in motion and therefore always as an objects of study for history.

Only disappearance of the form to know the limits between the body and art.

And for that, must be a beauty in need.

Question of beauty?How about those Bengali Sweet Corners with its own KalakundTo Sushmita Sen?How about the crucial themes of Horn-Please signs to Priyanka Chopra attitude in Aitraaz movies?How about the Holy war consequences to using material chemical substances among daily life?

How to digest experiences?Even the Demons are subject, like Satan fall like lighting from heaven and an authority to tread upon Serpents and Scorpions and Demons and overall so the power of the enemy can’t hurt.Also Spirits are subject.

Because the spirit always as a soul, an intellectual or moral part of human and even for every living creatures.This something that called mental attitude, a state of mind and in fact there’s still mysterious about it, and so on with the beauty.

The beauty has the qualities that gives pleasure to the senses of mind, that considering as a person, things or another living organism and the body has it well in every learning of ‘digestion’ and how to digest it.

Divine beauty!

The performance itself still got to do with the space, play, act and of course action before an audience, or shall might say that an audience is public.As on the public also considering issues, space, works, play and more than act, because the public is opposite of private, public is own and done by people in general and this is a particular section of the community, another ‘body’ and another strange gesture within those experiences and its own intellectualities, and the image of beauty are there together with collaboration of an act play with the situation and sometimes it could be putted with the interactive action within the real time situation.

Performance deals with powerful stage of being permanent, or creates permanent-contemporary of intimacy with the environment forms and also with the body works and this is the stage of realizing the intensity with manifestation of our own form of manufacture.

Since the performance had always the gesture, times or contents and some of personal experiences it always becoming another rules of substances for a symbol and ritual that present the imagination of surprise that related with utopia in simple gesture for state of socialization in search more of possibilities for the meaning of relation.

The relation of performance in the fields of visual art are always giving the privilege of divining the genre itself that giving certain birth of educational more moralized and has the meaning of proportion to living pictures, since it ‘projected’ in three-dimensional for visualization.Because after the creative process of drawing, the introduction of movement are modified in continuing modification to make complete of product value as a form to establish a new meaning of performative genre and it’s attitude, since we are really sure about beliefs in beauty.

In some case of performance, being static of fun in two-dimensional situation also created an established moment of being living picture that related into the relevant of another dynamic real time situation, this is the new interest for another form of media with the combination of being attractive, impressive, expressive and how to explore the technical and it’s invention, because its always gives the meaning of presenting the emotion, that’s why the invented of performance could be treated as a new media.The awareness for an image to shape the form into media needs to be performed more through the performance.

For that many symbolic ‘statues’ are invented and born again as a new meaning that involved more thoughts about how should this work become ‘beauty’ and how also the body could works with other things and create more beauty.

And by all of those meaning I started to make the works for this residence by divine from body to beautiful, actually this words comes from some commercial advertisement on a television, that comes so sudden as visual brainstorm for me, because the question on a beauty has been replaced by media visual which containing the chemical substances that also in some case in everyday life, we consume it and we also could believes that chemical substances are part of our life which some of it are for beauty and works like that to our body, that’s why the world of natural become so much important values in the market, so probably these whole kind of stuffs become more valuable after realizing the market, physically.

And now how about ours to them, how about our needed to that kind of value, is it makes us feeling ‘beauty’ also, what kind of beauty could be present and preserve after this?

The whole thing suddenly has changed for me and it’s become very ambitiously for each kind of manner to create another meaning of beauty as a pleasure, as an object of experiences and much of them work very abusive.

The ambitious creation could come as physically attack to the manner of market value as products and create ambush for us and it happened. We are trapped and we deal with it, we are surviving because sometimes our instinct takes control.

And for that I’m really sure about my own existence and many of my experiences to this city, as a new meaning and much of them are very important.

As there’s much to be preserved to the authority of the public, so with my closest observation to it, I tried to come out with the ambitious motive within my space, that also always an authority of its own. That’s my framework to knowing me within the space and its body or form.

When the city create structure to fulfill the ambition of its own public masses, so my body also had the power to adjust within that space, I’ve worked also with my structure and behavior to connect my adaptation to it.

As I do realized my existences in New Delhi are very new indeed I must keep occupied the space itself and realizing that I also there, alive, with surrounding and its attitude.

My emptiness are only a matter of comparing situation that held me or even trapped me with new things that I never really sure how to deal with it, but as long I still feel myself and present myself as my only self, that’s as far as I could do with my new space, my new city and my new experiences.

What shall I have many questions about it and about how beauty could take me as myself, for sure I keep thinking about was it beauty of art, or, art is beauty? Until then I keep my foggy situation for not only thinking about the beauty of art but there’s beyond connection above it, not only the art is represent beauty and not only beauty as an art.

The important thing is how to be just myself to represent things to another, and my responsibility to make rules of communication among my works and my attitude to others.Not only as an artist, but also as a living organism that have the power to create and to thing clearly with its own wisely attitude, considering, instinctive behavior and my adaptation to it.

We are the city and we can shut it down, as we consider to be perfect because we could think and create, so it is better to thinking that good art should start everyday as yourself and as clearly as you could do in good for the community, for the public, for other living things and most important is for you.

Let us go in the fog still.

“Ambitious-ly ambush”As an object of desire that always hidden.

Saumyabratta Chaudhary

New Delhi based theatre director and professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Saumya brought in a near academic discourse of the Performative and references of body actions from within the realm of Drama. His prior works shown were full-fledged theatre productions, often being renegotiation of prior texts or scripts. It also raised interesting queries about the dividing line between a solo act play and a live performance apart from its location and audience factors.

"Hamlet in Faridabad" lived remarkably up to the bold entitlement, which Saumyabratta created. Almost pendulum like in the enactment of its narrative ... the outcome had the sense of a very theatrical one-act play, as Saumya would toggle between multiple identities. The performance had a taped vocal narrative running interspersed with blank spaces so one ID would do acts connected to the "voice over" silently and suddenly would jump into the other ID which had a more ranting quality to the Performative delivery, carrying over elements of the previous ID a very literal manner.... so often the elements of ID1 would act in a delayed fashion with newer elements superimposed over the previous ones. Both IDs had their locational sets as well with the ID2 placing itself on a rail track while the ID1 was more of a labour home accessory.

Hemant Sreekumar



Soumyabrata Choudhury

Hamlet in Faridabad

“Poor boy with a book in hand …” so remarked a modern poet referring to Hamlet, Shakespeare’s famous creation. Struck by this image, I said to myself “what fabulous poverty! what an array of possible reading material to set Hamlet off on the inherited road to thought and action, what chilling, eerie lack of thought or action from book to book, newspaper to newspaper, library to library, city to city, nation to nation, inheritance to every conceivable inheritance !”

Strangely, the question I came upon next marked the threshold of a further possibility: How does one perform the radical refusal of thought and action, refusal of that hitherto conceived as the work of thought, or work produced or performed by action? Is it possible?

But of course, this very doubt was based on an inherited notion of performance – performance as work. A moral and economic notion geared to maintain certain fundamental unfreedoms … thus Hamlet’s great disquiet – how do I (Hamlet) perform what my filial and feudal duties urge me to do? how do I avenge my father’s murder and be true to my martial, royal, scholarly and administrative inheritance? Consequently the performance of Hamlet in Faridabad was thought out as a performance of disinheritance.

So then Faridabad … Or rather, a certain ‘library’ in the dusty, industrial town called Faridabad across Delhi’s border… or rather, a certain neighbourhood of birds, trees, cats on rooftop, bylanes and industrial workers who work, meet, talk, read, write, write of their lives, how life resists the inherited rhythm of so-called ‘productive ‘ work and its everyday alienated performance … a neighbourhood known to some as “mazdoor (workers’) library, Faridabad – 121001”. So what happens when Hamlet, searching for a sufficient reason (to be or not to be?) among words, words, words… on a pilgrimage of libraries, comes upon Mazdoor (workers’) library in Faridabad and its monthly newspaper /newsletter? Its gathering together of voices that refuse to speak ‘inherited’ words ?.

Hamlet in Faridabad was essentially based on this playful, and admittedly eccentric series of questions. It tried to interrogate the intervention of performance  in life as its lived by people from different locations in society, often fractious and incompatible between themselves, yet compelled by common (often unconscious) physical and metaphysical axioms of existence. As far as it was an open critique of the functional obligation to perform, Hamlet in Faridabad was a didactic effort. It quoted to the audience what it thought would persuade (or should one say dissuade) the latter. But it retained a grave unintelligibility at its heart – how to perform the disinheritance of performance itself? how to move from performance as / of work to performance as / of freedom? - and asked the audience to share the difficulty of this real blindspot. And in so far as the audience thought back, spoke back and extended this discourse alongside the performance , Hamlet in Faridabad has reason to be immeasurably grateful to everyone who stopped and stood by it.

Tejal Shah


The second artist in the residency to come from a filmmaking background or a camera background in this case was Tejal Shah. While in Reza's case the Camera itself played a peripheral documentative role, Tejal's behind the camera position, was initially used as a method to distance herself from the situation.

Her initial work done during her academic stint in USA involved a very calm but confusing steady shot of the Michigan Lake. Until she said it that the scene was the flat early morning shot of the Horizon as visible from the Michigan lake shore, the scene looked very undecipherable interspersed with the ambient sounds of a telephonic conversation with her mother in Mumbai merged with the existing early morning songs which resulted in a very meditative video composition.

Most other works before were more tongue in cheek video performances twisting around the held notions of Gender Stereotypes using popular syntaxes from Bollywood role play structures or commenting on the citizen nation by casually getting inputs on immediate histories.

Tejal's Performance entitled 'Sleep' had her strung out on a hammock outside the window of her first floor studio holding a cord connected to a hammock placed in the middle of the room where the audience was expected to lie down one at a time. Right above the interior hammock was a projection bounced off from a 45-degree mirror with the projector on the floor. The footage was beamed directly, constructing associations with multiple female identities within the context of a common task as it had shot footage of women sleeping, mumbling, and singing with their head on the pillow. This footage was edited into a loop and projected on Tejal's body.... and the entire procedure was then shot from a stationary camera on a tripod. Beautifully constructed and composed in the unlit studio space ... the only light was ambient, filtering in off the street casting a larger than life shadow of Tejal across the projection.