15 Jan, 2016 I Crowds gathered outside the School of Arts and Aesthetics Auditorium on Friday afternoon to observe and participate in a two-hour interactive performance by students of Kala Bhavan, Vishva Bharti University. The installation, entitled “Land, Natural, Gendered,” took place within the draping fabrics of the open shamiyana which delineated three circular seating areas as gathering spaces for performers and the public alike.
The original work, coordinated and conducted by Sanchayan Ghosh, was an eight-day performance which took place at Kala Bhavana from 3 October to 11 October 2015. The condensed two-hour version at JNU was curated by Amit Kukhopadhyay and consisted of the same black-and-white shamiyana being used as an interactive space for reading performance. Its ceiling displayed a variety of quotes and abstract concepts in both Hindi and English. Within each circle, performers as well as members of the public alternated reading from various feminist texts and WWII-based pieces, both drawing attention to patriarchal depictions of space and occupation.
Alongside these powerful readings, other artists navigated the space, sometimes robotically winding through the seating circles or else tangling themselves desperately in the draping fabrics. Their distorted faces within the enveloping fabric created an energy of anguish and despair which captured the attention of the growing crowd. At other moments, performers sat delicately pulling needle and thread through sandbags and the draping fabrics while others pulled them out in fluid motions. This casual erasure seemed to illustrate the futility of attempting to create order or self-expression within the walls of ones’ own cage.
The performance was followed by a panel discussion on the piece, reflecting on the concept of land as a practice, experience, and evolution. Plato’s Cave and Hitler’s Bunker serve as the inspirational foundations of the piece.
The performers were Arni Sarkar, Arpita Akhanda, Bhasha Chakrabarti, Payel Sutradhar, Promiti Hussain, Samiksha, Sarmistha Bose, Anarya, Bhaskar Hazarika.
Reporting and photography by Sibel Güner, a GSP student in CSSS who works for The Informer.