Grant Period: Over three months
Collaborators: T.M. Azis and Tripura Kashyap
Visual artist C.F. John, choreographer Tripura Kashyap and photographer/visual artist T.M. Azis had conceptualized two site-specific exhibitions/performances around an open well and a quilt. Through an intricate intermeshing of space, artist and work, the collaborators attempted to enlarge the formal parameters of visual art and dance.
While Kashyap is interested in liberating the performing body from artificially imposed styles and forms and relocating it within ‘natural organic structures’, John’s ennui with conventional art practices compels him to explore alternative spaces as context and substance for art. For Azis, however, the substitution of the canvas with open space is not an act of replacement. It helps him see the empty canvas as a site. Through interactive sessions, the artists associated local communities living around the well with the creative process. Poems, stories, folklore, songs and incidents related to the site were documented and reinterpreted with the active involvement of the community. The artists had the opportunity to share the ideas, skills, resources and dynamics of their respective mediums amongst themselves as well as with the community at large. They describe the quilt as both a metaphorical weaving together of earlier artistic initiatives in Bangalore, as well as a real quilt with associations of home, comfort and warmth.
One of the central concerns of the project was to take art out of the clinical spaces of the gallery and proscenium, provoking the viewer to see art outside conventional contexts. While the artists acknowledge that these alternative spaces are limiting in terms of available resources like lighting, this in itself was a challenge for them to create a different kind of art, art as a fresh physical entity or an extension of landscape. A site, they emphasize, is not ‘a passive medium’ like the canvas, on which one adds paint or paper.
The grant helped in making the artists effort fruitful and it created an ecological nostalgia and the most striking feature was the artists’ engagement with the well.