Friday, July 5, 2013

Fusing theatre, photography, drawing and video for a live performance

His varied interests encompassing theatre, photography, drawing and video drew Nikhil Chopra to performance art. He infused elements of ambiguity and intensity with a touch of drama, to make them gripping.

In a scintillating series of photographs, he transformed himself into the character of Sir Raja III (2005). His body of work ‘What will I do with all this land?’ journeyed through his vast estate. It was an extension of his effort to explore through surrounding tableaux the very theatrics of posing.

The narrative woven around the central character did not relate to any specific place or moment in history. Built largely from and around personal memory, old family photographs, and an ancestral home, the artist himself became his alter ego, while adopting the Indian prince’s stereotype during the colonial era, prompting s viewers to notice the finesse and complexity of his photo-performance, involving the self on display even while enacting another.

His ‘Yog Raj Chitrakar: Eating’ (2007), quite unlike his earlier works, was conceived like an ephemeral event. Elements of silence, conversation and food were utilized for drawing a personal narrative – both engaging and haunting. Visitors were asked to share a meal in a homely ambience. Embodying a persona resembling his grandfather, he wore a Victorian costume. A video portrayed his character actively moving though the captivating city streets, juxtaposed with densely populated and modern scenes alongside mostly rural scenes displayed on a slide projector.

The spectacle tends to unfold in the ritualistic details embedded in mundane actions like eating, drinking, washing, bathing, sleeping, shaving, dressing, and creating a charcoal and chalk drawing. What often goes unnoticed, if observed and felt, turns into a heightened moment of revelation that mirrors our personal and social anxieties, he reveals.

The photographic images, which form part of the residue of his live performances, are aimed at re-igniting its concerns after the act is over. Though seduced by the tableaux he creates, which leads to our admiration of his social position and beauty, we remain aware of the farce. By desiring conscious identification with the being he has created, the artist exposes to us the complexity with which we tend to receive and revile icons.

No comments:

Post a Comment