Propositions: On Text and Space

An Installation by Zuleikha Chaudhari, based on the production of Some Stage Directions for Henrik Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman
KHOJ Studios, New Delhi
Monday, 30 August 2010
Zuleikha Chaudhari

My production, Some Stage Directions For Henrik Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, commissioned for the Delhi Ibsen Festival 2009, used the scaffolding of the Ibsen text as a device to develop a response to history, to everything that we hear around us about mines and mining, extraction and accumulation, and great gambles that go awry. Stage directions from the Ibsen script and texts by the New Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective (that constructed a landscape of larger histories) were used as the spine of the text. The use of monologue (instead of dialogue) and the analytical, annotative texture of the stage directions provided moments to step away from the immediate emotional landscape of the play, allowing for personal history to be reflected upon rather than felt.

The (2009) production explored the different ways in which images can be constructed and imagined using text. Can the description of an image serve as a mode of its performance? In what forms can a text be moulded and spoken such that images develop primarily from textual permutations?The different qualities and narratives of the texts used in the production has led me to think about what would happen if there is no performer through which the text is mediated – if there is only text and space. How does text transform, literally, into image? Text as landscape, text as visual, text as object, text as installation, text as performance, writing as performance. Text as a plastic and a concrete form. The proposed installation will seek to map the text as a landscape through a series of three-dimensional light installations that interprets and responds to the text spatially and experientially.Through the installation, I hope to map further three, somewhat parallel, trajectories that have emerged over time in my work: the movement from actor to space (and its interaction with text); from personal tragedy to social history and from performance to installation.