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

Seiji Shimoda's Performance @Victoria Memorial #kipaf15 Day 3

Neha Tickoo's Report

There is something omnipresent about the newspaper. And it is reluctantly and relentlessly so. We can say that the whole gamut of information industry is ubiquitous and even though we have stepped deep into the virtual world of consuming multitudes of information, the newspaper is still held dear in its very irrefutable materiality. Perhaps it is this all-pervasiveness of the printed word that gets imitated by the virtual proliferation of textual information. Then, the tangible and locally available newspaper can become a potent object to be manipulated through performance. Seiji Shimoda, an artist from Nagano, Japan, merely uses this newspaper and sellotape to create this piece of work.

Seiji enters the same venue, the vast ground in front of Victoria Memorial armed with his bundle of newspapers and a roll of sellotape. Come to think of it, it is rather a common sight to find a foreigner with newspaper strolling into that space, outside the Victoria Memorial gate, a famous tourist spot in Kolkata. However, Seiji goes on to lay down his tools – one by one each sheet of the newspaper bundle is laid in front of him along while he strips off pieces of the sellotape for what is to come. Most often than not, newspapers in art have been amply used as cheap raw material to create new sub-objects, sometimes to impose or to be superimposed upon. What Seiji does with the newspaper is quite neat even while demonstrating the crisp fluidity of paper.

He begins by placing one sheet of paper in the middle of the audience- a collection of Pi members and artists among plenty of local people. He takes another full sheet of newspaper and with the help of sellotape, he attaches it to the newspaper sheet already placed there. He picks up the edge of this elongated narrow sheet of newspapers in his hands and raises it over his head letting rest of the paper fall on his back. After maintaining that particular crouching position for a while, he leaps forward, as far as he can, allowing the newspaper on his head flutter accordingly. When at his new position, he makes time to add another sheet of paper to this strip of newspapers and jumps back to his original position. Once again, he goes on to add another sheet of paper and repeats his leap, back and forth-ing between the two fixed but unmarked points, as the sheets go on to be added after each leap. He continues doing so until he transforms into a totally different creature and the strip of newspapers begins to look more like a long cape, a veil, a frog’s tongue also perhaps. Towards the end it becomes so elongated that he makes effort to collect the entire roll of newspapers in his hands over his head while ensuring a far reaching jump. The performance lasted a good 20-25 minutes and the strip of taped newspaper sheets must have become more than 10 feet long. Seiji ended it with crumble-folding the enormous strip back to himself while walking back into the crowd not letting the bundle away from him.
There are many images that shot up in my mind while Seiji performed this act among a curious audience. There are very anthropomorphic attributions with which one can look at Seiji’s work. In his acts of leaping, he transforms into a frog, with the same postures and the flying strip of newspaper become his tongue, which only shoots out and never retrieves back, following him wherever he jumps off to. His movements slowed down a bit as he was extremely careful of laying down his tool in order. I could then find time to read what the newspaper offered in the fleeting “in-between” moments. It was of course one of leading English newspapers of the country and what flashed were the news headlines like “Can USA be an All-weather Friend?” and “Kolkata is No. 1 in Faking It.” Or the other side read, “Measures To Job Hunting”. Perhaps the tongue of the Frog was telling me what i wanted to read!

Neha ‘Zooni’ Tickoo is a dancer, a student of Performance and a poet hailing from Kashmir and based in Delhi. She dabbles in Art and Performance Writing. Some of her writing works can be accessed at and

It is a good piece of writing by Neha expressing her intricate observations about one of the most powerful performance of KIPAF15. Seiji being one of the most admired performance artist of contemporary world always brings with him a fresh air whenever he comes to us, the KIPAF family, actually he himself became one important figure of the ever growing family. From the very few works we were privileged to experience during the last two KIPAF we felt a kind of breathing space in his work and also around himself as an artist present there in the crowd of us. To add to Zooni’s account I would like to share my little understanding about the work. There was a playful approach behind Seiji’s work in front of Victoria, which embody the power of nonsense as a potent medium of expression. Interestingly “nonsense” was the hidden theme/undercurrent of this KIPAF.

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