Lord, have you forsaken me thus? – concept exploration on residence with Art Ecology, Bangalore

This piece was created during a two week residency at Good Earth Enclave in Bangalore, in association with the Art Ecology initiative (co-founded by Veena Basvarajaiah).

An experimental medium, Lord, have you forsaken me thus? is a query of nationalism, religion and identity, as viewed from my perspective as a first-generation Australian of Tamil South Indian descent.

 

Points to note in viewing this work are as follows:

1. The reference to ‘falling between nations’ in the first part of the piece refers to my unclaimed citizenship status at the time of my birth: as per my birth certificate, I was not deemed a citizen of Singapore when I was born there to my Indian parents (who were not Singaporean, but Indian citizens). However, due perhaps to bureaucratic processes, I was also not given an immediate status as an Indian citizen. Rather, it was specifically cited that my birth occurred within the Indian mission of the hospital. For a period of several months therein, my status buoyed untethered between these two nationalities. This is an occurrence I find curious and rife with questions, particularly considering the untethered statuses of so many people that are born in circumstances of severe displacement and humanitarian crises. How does this bureaucratic displacement at the time of birth impact a longer narrative of opportunity and identity-formation throughout ones life? More importantly, how many are born untethered that never receive citizenship? What does that make you? What have we learned this means?

2. The terms ‘new Gondwana-lands’  refers to the name of an ancient supercontinent from the Neoproterozoic period (550 million years ago), from which Australia and Antarctica are believed to have broken off from during the Cenozoic period. This reference is used rather than the term ‘Australia’, in homage to the ever-changing nature of nation states, land masses and continents, which are determined first and foremost by nature.

3. The format of the work is a poetic homage that addresses God (or the idea of God) directly, and via complaints to the ‘Sakhi’, or friend. This format is borrowed from the class of Bharatanatyam dance known as Padams. Padams employ the Sringara Rasa, and denote an emotional tone/expression of romantic love with God. Hence terms such as ‘Petal-lipped One’ or ‘Rubied Saviour’ are used in endearment towards the Godhead, as is commonly articulated in Tamil/Sankrit – English translations of Carnatic music. In this way, the poetry here mimics an English translation of an Indian song that has never existed.

A Note on Process:

Reflecting on my first video art piece, I am keen to improve my technical abilities in shooting and editing for future work. I am also interested in exploring possible narratives that can be articulated in the cross-section between prose, improvisation and video.

Having recorded the key movement aspect during a casual improvisation, with no intentions of using it for this piece, I am struck by the way in which performance and art-making practices speak to each other over a non-linear continuum and address the intention of the artist in unexpected and unplanned ways (that too, often subconsciously). Therapeutic art process often refer to this phenomena as ’emergence’ or ‘content-in-process’, whereby unbeknownst to the art-maker, a medium acts as a reflection or further of a sense or idea that is present within the artist.

Recording the secondary figure, depicting Bharatanatya mudras and movements, and adding this to the interaction with the primary figure, the relationship between the two bodies further serves to articulate the binaries within the performance of identity/ies. In this case, it is the propriety of the moods of ‘classical’ Indian dance in opposition to the casual abstractions of improvisation. Upon my first attempt to perform the piece entirely in a deconstructed Bharatanatyam style, it felt inauthentic to the work. Rather, the focus on my unconstructed self, my placid, introverted and ‘non-trying’ self, spoke to the intimacy of the subject-matter.

These thoughts fuel my ongoing inquiries into what this space of creation offers.

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‘Now, and the Mind Tears’, immersive installation at Agency Agency, Nicholas Building, Melbourne

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Now, and The Mind Tears

you walk down the street 
youve stared too long at nothing
something steps your miss
you are where?

An installation exploring the existential quandary of the city-dweller, inquiring into apathy and conscious renunciation as a response to the chaos of contemporary life.

This work intersperses writing from the Hindu scripture known as the Avadhut Gita (Song of the Freewith reflections written by the Artist.

The Avadhut Gita is poetic scripture based on the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta (non-duality), which posits that the individual soul is comparable to the highest metaphysical reality.


‘Nectarean’

Of Nectar; ‘life-giving drink of the Gods’

Compound of
     ‘Nek’- coming from “death” (necro), and
‘tar’- coming from ‘tere’ to cross over, pass through or overcome:

– that which overcomes death

 

ARTIST STATEMENT:

I present this work as my first public installation, inquiring into how the themes of poetic verse can be communicated through immersive and experiential means.

You are invite to enter this work and make your way through to the centre, reading as much or as little of the text as you would prefer.

I am curious about the potentiality for non-traditional readings to communicate new messages and would love to know about your experiences should you wish to share them. Please find some pages for you to leave your thoughts at the back of the room on the ledge.
 

About the Avadhut Gita:

The Avadhut Gita is believed to have been anonymously written during the 9th or 10th Century BC. Later accreditations to the author as ‘Sri Dattatreya’ have been proffered, but historians cannot validate this character. The poetic translation used in this work comes from Swami Abhayananda.

“Throughout history, it has been the contention of the mystics of all cultural traditions that the “vision of God” reveals man’s essential oneness with Absolute Being, awakening him to his true, eternal Identity. Prior to such divine illumination, say these mystics, man suffers under the mistaken illusion that he is a limited and finite being, separate and distinct from other beings, who possesses his own individual identity.”

The Artist and Agency Agency would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay our respects to their elders past and present.

We note that this performance takes place on land that was appropriated violently and against the will of the First Australians. We also acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded and the Australian Government continues to systematically persecute and abuse Aboriginal people in Australia.

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THE STUDIO: AGENCY AGENCY
Agency Agency exists as a place of space for provocateurs of the unconscious. Double-agents of agency Dario Vacirca, Nick Roux, Nithya Iyer and Ching Ching Ho operate in service of the proverbial people, creating and facilitating critical media, reflections and manipulations for individual and mass de-sedation. Agency Agency can assist with locating one’s agency, ensuring all holes in the matrix are quickly exacerbated, and calculated ruptures to modus operandi are executed. “On-world” services include experimental performance and arts-inquiry, intercultural theatre arts translation, sound and video design, critical writing, research and scholarship, and all other forms of creating. For more information, insert message through the space-time continuum here, or alternatively phone/email as follows.

 

 

 

MOKITA – a secular grieving ritual.

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A durational performance, a ritual, and an invitation, MOKITA is mourning in motion. Exploring grief, and the complex emotions arising from, but not limited to, environmental collapse, Mokita is a participatory, immersive and meditative experience where attendees are invited to submit their grieving to the space and to share in the catharsis

A Kilivila word from Papua New Guinea, meaning ‘the truth we all know, and have agreed not to talk about,’ MOKITA is a performance work that seeks to create a space dedicated to grieving, and asks how we maintain our humanity amongst a time of rapid destruction and change.

Performed by Luna Mrozik-Gawler, Nithya Iyer and Devika Bilimoria, accompanied by sound art by Amy Hanley, and supported by Nardine Keriakous, MOKITA considers the global, environmental and personal grief arising from the  urgent and distressing circumstances that we are surrounded by everyday.

It considers the absence of contemporary, secular spaces to confront difficult emotions such as melancholy, rage or grief.

As Facebook-feeds flood with images of war-ravaged communities, beached whales, nuclear spills, screaming cattle, burning forests and rising waters, how are we to acknowledge this collective emotional trauma? Where are we to put this grief?

MOKITA aims to create a secular contemporary ritual space that answers this need.

It exists as a salve for those unable to process or release their own sense of grief; whether it arises from situations commonly associated with mourning, such as a death, or is a result of any kind of change, or ongoing anxiety.

On the day of this seven hour ritual, participants are invited to confidentially offer their grief into the performance space to be carried through a meditative performative process.

The grief will be individually placed in native seed mottled clay by  participants, and at the conclusion of the ritual, will be planted in the soil surrounding Birdlands Reserve in Belgrave Heights.

In this way our grief, individual or collective, small or insurmountable, will be offered back to land as a contribution towards ongoing revegetation of the site.

MOKITA - HillsceneLIVE Festival 2017

Image by Devika Bilimoria

BLACK BIRD – embodied poetry.

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Image: John E Photography

The Body SPEAKS

An exploration of the nexus of words and movement.
The language of the mind and mouth, meet the language of the body.
Meaning made by sounds, words and movement.
Dance which is literally lyrical
And poetry that is literally moving.
Sign language for the whole body.
Stories for all the senses.

Debut performance of BLACK BIRD – A collaborative performance piece with Luna Ma Narama.

Cecil Street Studios,
December 6th
66 Cecil Street, Brunswick