Introducing KIPAF

PERFORMERS iNDEPENDENT (Pi) was an independent artists' collective, experimenting and exploring the traditional, modernist and contemporary spaces in the cultural paradigm. The Kolkata International Performance Art Festival was initiated by Pi in 2012 to annually open up the city of Kolkata to diverse traditions of performance, performitivty and interventions. Since then Pi has got fragmented but KIPAF has taken deeper roots.

The festival aims to be a platform for dialogue between site, art, politics and culture. KIPAF acknowledges the nascent nature of Performance Art in India, and will always play a role in the pedagogy of performance art.
The festival is be held between 23rd-26th January every year.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Pavitra Mehta's Performance @College Square - #kipaf15 Day 3

Neha Tickoo's Report

A performer, one who is able to make most of the stuff available in the environment is able to create works that may astound, and may create some effect in the heart and the mind of the onlooker. Pavitra chose to do her performance during evening of the third day of the KIPAF. She chose a rather unused space besides the abandoned pool. Just when it was her turn to perform, she was already among the audiences and she used Bhaskar Hazarika done up full in his regal attire complete with the silver foil mask as he ushered all the audiences beating a drum in a somber rhythm, drawing them closer with sufficient attention following. Interestingly, she had set up her performance venue in a circle, made out of broken discarded bricks she used as found objects. This circular formation had interesting effect on the way the audience arranged itself to watch the performance, a large semi-circle with enough space between her, seated in her circle of bricks and themselves. It looked as if a serious ritual would be executed by her as she placed herself in the middle of that circle and sat on her thighs. She did this after she removed her shoes, and so invariably it indicated sanctity of her chosen space of performance.

As she settled conveniently in the middle of the circle, the drumming stopped. Now the attention began concentrating towards the center of the circle. She had already placed a earthen pot of black colour near the edge of the circle. There was also red paint on her hands, which she brandishes at the audience and clearly showing as if revealing their emptiness and the colour. She had a brown paperbag kept besides her. She places the paperbag on her head and suddenly she transforms into a faceless creature.

The final and the most important stage in the performance was Pavitra picking up the paint brush from the earthen pot containing black paint and attempting to paint a face over the brown paper bag placed over her face and head. She began to superimpose suggestive dots on the brown paper bag indicating her eyes, her nose, and her mouth. Soon the paper bag began to get soggy but she continued to smear the wet black paint on the torn-at-places paper bag on her face. Simultaneously her face began to become visible. Occasionally she keeps flashing her red painted hands at the audiences, in slow movements. Finally the paper-bag is not able to hold itself due to excess sogginess and tears off. She tears off the paper and ends the performance.
All through the performance, I could get reminded of the performance of Olivier de Sagazan’s ‘Transfiguration’[1]. This performance involves, on a much deeper level, the idea of physical appearance and its transformation. Sagazan uses clay as a tool to transform his physical appearance, and with this wet clay he moulds and re-moulds into different creatures like a woman, with ravaged hair, a man with enormous phallus, or sometimes into an alien, a predator. He becomes as grotesque as possible but all the time he is amply recognizable as we go on recollecting and recognizing the dynamics played by the clay on his physical being. Paritrahere, seemingly does not aim for radical transformation of this measure but there are some structural similarities, which cannot be denied, even though these similarities may perhaps be attributed to chance entirely! However, the way she sits in the circle, or the way she places the pot of black paint in front of her and the use of clayey coloured paper bag on her head, the urge to depict a face over the paper bag, and culmination with eventual rupture of the soggy paper bag become essential indicators that compel one to make mention of Sagazan’s work in order to look at Pavitra’s performance. One can at least say that Pavitra seems inspired by Sagazan’s work invariably, but in the content and the motives of her performance, however, she is not able to imitate what Sagazan achieves. Rather she sets up an altogether different tone and mood for maybe different purpose entirely, which, I believe, will be more visible to anyone unaware of Sagazan’s work altogether.

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