This article is based on the interviews that were conducted as part of the documentation process for R.A.P.E (regional art performance event) Guwahati 2012, a fortnight of events with interconnecting junctures in form of performances, installations, workshops, paper presentations, and group interactions.
The premise of this article is to present viewpoints as expressed by various artists regarding their performances during the event.
Performance for me is just like photography, painting or video it just another medium to express myself and my past experiences.
It is an act where I am involved with myself and conscious only about myself, where the choreography becomes spontaneous and honest
I am concerned with the idea of “body is an element”, to experiment with how to explore my body in context of performance, as sight specific using the limited resources. For me the performance starts by recording the moments and things around be whether they are conversation, environment around or other mundane stuff. My act starts while the other activities are still happening around me. So I believe in the accident.
We are surrounded by frustrations and problems but no one actually talks about how to solve the problems. Thus for me tying and choking myself is a process of relieving, I can’t even express the peace of mind I get after the performances. For me it’s a cleansing process, it is easy to talk about the problems but being a sensitive human being and being an artist we have to find solutions too. For me binding is a frustrated act, if I am not able to find out the solution to issues, disturbances, frustrations that keep piling up inside me, around me, every day.
The objects that I use are representation of collective discussions or symbols of society and my step by step interventions or act is a cleansing process, I relieve myself of the frustration at every point during the performance.
Each and every act or performance of binding is different with different concerns and problems that may be pilling inside me till that moment, so each act becomes a life altering process making me feel relaxed
Through performance the idea can directly be taken to the public
Aniruddha baruah-The Yellow Cab Group
My thought is to create interaction, curiosity and social conciseness amongst common people. What I like is when people come to the performance and I am able to study their face, everyone has a different expression and reaction.
Kishor Kumar Das – Artist’s Guild
Even in my paintings the human body parts which are very abstract and organic are frequently used. I explore this sensuality through touch, an act which has a very intimate connection for me a performance was a way of connecting my private experience within a public domain, while questioning certain social stigmas which restrict women from engaging in certain tasks
It is not very different for me to be an artist – generally - then a painter and a performer. Some where I have taken a decision that my work is in the field of visual arts so I try to construct designs, visuals and visual experiences, sometimes on paper and sometimes with spaces, not just two dimensional spaces but also 3dimentional real spaces. My intention is always the same as when I am working as a painter or when I am working as a performance artist.
I try to create a sort of an expression - a communication or a visual - more directly to say a visual experience to communicate within myself and I think if that process is reflected it communicates with the audience as well.
There is a difference, when I am working within my studio my space, private or personal space, and when I am working in the public I am working with the other with people around.
That is what I like about public art, that I can reflect or share my labor- the process of labor, the process of the work which you can’t always reflect in the painting or in a sculpture.
I don’t think of my work from the subject or content point of view because the content, subject, visuals, or motifs come intuitively.
I try to relate with what I am thinking, I try to keep myself engaged with it, so that when I try to relate the thoughts with my art I can share that labor in public spaces. This sharing of labor is, I could say, interesting and important. It’s this physicality of doing which reflects the feeling of labor.
Syed Taufik Riaz
For us as a group performance comes from personal experiences and trying to find and provide solutions to our personal experiences, even if it is temporary. The act is not for the public it was for ourselves. As a group for us Performance starts with the idea and then its development takes place.
Dharamendra Prasad – Anga Studio
I work with the non linear theater - for me nothing is fixed and permanent. I use disposable material and all the materials that I use are originally used for some other purpose. But when I use these materials I give them different meaning which is lost after very performance, leaving the material to regain its own identity later.
I don’t stick to one original idea or the concept of the installation, performance or public art- whatever that it is- the moment you walk into a post modern approach, you cannot keep a border line, you have to break out of all kinds of boarder line but without avoiding the cultural icons, visual symbols or psychological symbols,
What makes the whole exercise interesting is when the symbols are used do deliver a different meaning which may or may not work depending on the circumstances.
I have a serious problem with the ongoing performance practices, it is not just my problem but a problem faced by all because we are trying to identify the grammar and understand what can be a method for performance art. This difficulty is reflected in the term itself whether to call it performance art or performing art. Whether you agree or not it is already there, one belongs to the visual art practice and the other belongs to the larger cultural practice, so the perspective and the experiential detail is entirely different. That is why I feel I am in an in- between space of a larger public domain and a very personalized, artistic presentation.
Since I am still exploring the field I feel very confused, as to whether I should call myself performance artist or address with some other term.
The performative circumstance is already present in Assam, people understand, see and visit theater so the culture is already there, but there are other reasons too. Though things are happening, people are constantly saying there is no working space in Assam for fine arts, and there is no working environment for artistic practices. ……… So we have to check it out by practice and by physical presence, because sitting in Delhi we can easily comment but to go to the space and to observe it to experience it is a completely different thing,
………………In two or three days you cannot understand the effect of what is happening.
We have to understand how the space is giving shape to the ideas. It is important to check the environment basically and to generate a proper dialogue because there is a working environment but the dialogue is somehow missing. Dialogue is in two terms- in theoretical terms a theoretical understanding and a critical vision, which ‘as a fact’ is seriously missing. The second is a dialogue between the working artists and the agencies and spaces, where there is no co- ordination and even if the co –ordination is there it is not visible.
…………………So the exercise and the RAPE is not an effort towards creating any brand.
In case of art the so called high art practices are governed by the western model or the pan Indian model of gallery and connoisseurship etc to an extent that there is no voluntary aspect to it. We see people changing their visual language also because of the monitory conditions.
So it was important to go to the voluntary model, the kinds that are happening in the theaters, to do art for own sake and pleasure first. Then there might come out a genuine idiom, since performance is a very idiomatic practice, thus to find out a particular language.
We never stand in front of an art work for more than five minutes but performance has an appeal which makes people watch an art activity for longer duration. This is an achievement, because it generates a mood and the aspect of “seeing” which is important.
Samudra Kajal Saikia