Shifting Sands, Sifting Hands
Curated by Nikhil Chopra & Madhavi Gore, Visual artists and Founders of Heritage Hotel, with visual artist Jana Prepeluh
“Now, as I do this; now, as the light here goes out, for instance.
What is the now? Is the now at my disposal? Am I the now? Is every other person the now? Then time would indeed be I myself,
And every other person would be time. And in our being with one another we would be time – everyone and no one. Am I the now?
Or only the one who is saying this?”
The notion of the now in the discussion of time and duration (needed to create a work of art) can be formulated as the work being in the constant state of becoming. This idea, of the Becoming, wherein the work of art emerges in the Live and lived moment, and not in the artist’s studio or on the gallery walls or pedestals as an object transported, handled such that its aura is kept intact. Herein lies the potential of an intense energy exchange between the viewer and the performer. The idea is delivered and communicated as a sensory effect, a feeling, a mark made, all lending to the aura of the work and the lingering feeling that the spectator is left with. While the reigns of time are pulled by the performer, the audience willingly participates in its completion, suspended in the spectacle of disbelief, seeing it through to its finale. Theatre has already broken the fourth-wall for visual artists working with performance, and has entered the arena of multidisciplinarity with the visual arts. Anxious scripts and dis-jointed texts expressed the schizophrenia and absurdity of rituals and banalities of contemporary life. For an artist working with performance or live art practices, time and duration become the central material engagement. The title of this program, Shifting Sands, Sifting Hands, relates to the above idea of everything being in a constant state of becoming, in the slippage(s) of time through movement or stillness, of the body in the recognition of death present in every moment as it passes.
The second parallel material engagement of performance art is the body. Performance art is of the body and from the body. The body is always dealt with in a performance, even in the absence of the artist, or in the absence of a watching viewer.
Performance art is transformative; it evokes, or wants to represent a state of flux, conflict, catharsis, within the arrangements of time and space. It is ephemeral, transient, and at times transcendental. One deals at times with the residue of the performance as a composition; the residual effects that in the end hold the visual gestault of the work together even after the event. Thirdly, the relationship of performance to aesthetics can be established, as it questions notions of beauty -a key entry into the language of live art. Here we can begin to bring the visual aesthetic of a performance and its residue into the framework of visual art practices, and relate it to the histories of painting and photography or sculpture and installation, and hold on to the viewing models of art ascribed to rarified white cube gallery spaces. While engagement with performance art can be entered from the academy by drawing relationships to tribal ritual, cultural practices and identity debates, performance art is an integral part of visual art. Performance work from the 1960s- 1980s has etched itself into art history. Major museums retrospect the life works of pioneers of performance, while discussing how performance can be part of permanent collections. We want to rethink the critique of the institution and of an object oriented art world that practitioners of performance art have engaged with.
Ali Asgar is a Dhaka based artist who focuses primarily on printmaking and Live Art. Asgar’s work talks about issues such as gender, sexuality and social taboos, often referring back to his personal conflict with the stereotypical Bangladeshi mindset concerning members of minority communities. In his work, he regularly uses his own body and self-imagery as a rudimentary element to walk the line between the reality and the artifice of self-analysis. Asgar earned a BFA in Printmaking from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka in 2015 and has participated in exhibitions including the Asian Art Biennale, group exhibitions at the Dhaka Art Centre, and many others.
Sanad Kumar Biswas
Sanad Kumar Biswas is an artist based in Dhaka with a keen interest in sculpture, installation and performance, and experiments in the space between them. Biswas’s work explores existentialism and his own personal relevance on a global scale, analysing one’s momentary existence changing with the constraints of space and time. He earned an MFA in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka in 2011. His participation in major group exhibitions include Parables: A three days site Specific Art Project - NATIVE MYTH, 2015; National Art Exhibition - Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, 2009, 2013, 2015; “DOWNRIVER”, Institute of Asian Creative‘’, 2014 as well as annual exhibitions at Dhaka University.
Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty
Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty works in the field of fine art, poetry, performance and animation. Based in Dhaka, he uses a variety of mediums to create his work including drawing, colour, photography, sound, text, light, readymade or found objects. His work poses a deep concern for the human psyche; the crises of duality that leads mankind into controversial life cycles by dealing with odium, love and desire. Sometime he chooses a genre as his subject matter. He earned an MFA in sculpture from the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka in 1998, and is a founding trustee of Britto Art Trust. Chisty recently attended a residency at Skowhegan and his work has featured in the 54th Venice Biennale in the Bangladesh Pavilion, the 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennale, the Asian Art Biennale, Dhaka Art Summit, and many other important exhibitions in the region.
Manmeet Devgun is an artist based in New Delhi, India, where she studied in the Jamia Millia Islamia School of Fine Art. She began school with an interest in painting but eventually veered away and began work in the space of performance. Devgun’s work is an evaluation of her life as an artist and as a mother. She explores the duality and interplay of these roles in her life in a comical light. Her use of performance draws her audience into her everyday experiences. For example, in her performance Situation 01 (2013) she is seen nailing the clothes she is wearing to a board, however, upon receiving a phone call from her daughter she cuts herself free to help her daughter.
Sajan Mani is an artist from Kerala, India. His art challenges the plight of marginalised societies in Kerala including the political and economic struggles and the rapidly growing ecological issues that are affecting the backwaters. His work revels in the space of public intervention and confronts colonial influence in the region, and examining the current political, economic and spatial circumstances. Mani has performed in the Project 560-Found Space Festival initiated by the India Foundation for the Arts in Bangalore, India. Mani continues to engage and interact with other artists in India exploring the point between history and present. His previous participation includes Vancouver Biennale and residency at Delfina foundation in association with New Art Exchange, UK.
Yasmin Jahan Nupur
Yasmin Jahan Nupur is a visual and performance artist based in Dhaka whose work is influenced by the ecological and community/public driven aspects of life. She often explores class distinctions and the social discrepancies people face, particular women and migrants of South Asia. Her recent work has engaged deeply with architecture, and the idea of phsycial and social constructs affecting her psyche. She is a member of Britto Arts Trust in Bangladesh. Her work has featured in the Bangladesh Pavilion of the 54th Venice Biennale, the Asian Art Biennale, the Dhaka Art Summit, and she recently attended a performance residency at the Delfina Foundation in London. She has been awarded two honourable mention awards at the Asian Art Biennale in 2008 and 2013.
Venuri Perera is a performer and performance maker from Sri Lanka. She has trained in Kandyan Dance and has been a member of the Chittrasena Dance Company since 1994-2007. In 2008 she received her Post Graduation Certificate in Dance from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London. Perera is known for challenging political and social issues but key to her performances are her personal associations with aspects of gender and stereotypes and being a female dancer in Sri Lanka. Her performance piece Thalattu (Lullaby) addresses the plight that women face due to war and displacement, and this work has travelled to India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, and Myanmar. She has been awarded the Michelle Simone prize for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography.
Atish Saha (AKA. Ayon Rehal) works in the field of photography and performance art and is based in Dhaka. He has an advanced diploma in photography from Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, where he joined in 2011. More recently he has been awarded the Overseas Press Club of America Award and the VQR Prize for Photography. His work explores and exposes a deep understanding of people’s individuality, the private space that is violated by society, his motherland’s independence, the struggle of being a minority, identity crises, and religious extremism, which he often relates to his own personal experiences.