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Stayin’ alive

From reciting poems to dance and drama, artists are breaking new grounds.

art and culture Updated: Aug 13, 2010 01:56 IST
Aakriti Sawhney

Canvas, sculptures, stills… ‘sleeping art’ is passé. It jumped out of the freeze-frame mode six years ago, when artist Chintan Upadhaya posed nude in Sarjan Art Gallery in Gujarat, next to his artwork of burnt drawing sheets.

His exhibit depicted the plight of riot victims in Gujarat. Soon after his display, artists all over India embraced this concept to challenge conformity. “Performance art is still a very new concept. It allows an artist to take art to a new level.

The fact that the artist interacts with his audience during an art performance, adds impact,” says Nidhi Jain of Gallery Ragini, who is currently exhibiting the works of Siri Devi Khandavilli.

Siri’s 15-minute performance talks about the consumption-driven society we live in. The performance starts with the artist consuming chocolates, describing never-ending materialistic desires.

“It all started when I saw a TV commercial with the phrase ‘Get out of debt, free’. It immediately reminded me of another interesting phase, ‘Eat all you want and still lose weight’. It’s human nature to want more and not let go of anything, and this is what I am depicting,” says the artist.

Baroda School of Art alumnus Hetal Chudasama is one of the few others to ace the form. She has created a presentation that has a bed, hundreds of needles hanging from the ceiling, and a performance around it – the artist recites a poem while her team of 12 co-performers enacts other roles.

“All the performers represent the multiple selves of an individual. They are constantly in a dialogue with each other, expressing the different emotions a person goes through, in a day,” says the artist, who is currently showcasing her work at Gallery Exhibit 320.

Then, there is artist Manjunath Kamath, who will be painting the walls of a gallery instead of the canvas. The artist will constantly interact with his audience – to take feedback or ideas. “It will be on display for a month, and after that, it will be wiped off,” says Kamath. But art that’s alive is here to stay.