For research to write a critical history of Tamil theatre during the early twentieth century, using the writings of Pammal Sammadha Mudaliar as resource material. The project will critique the categorisation of Tamil theatre into rural and urban forms and explore the struggles of practitioners against the backdrop of anti-colonial and the nascent anti-Brahmanical movements in the region. The outcome of this project will be the manuscript of a book. The Grantee’s deliverables to IFA with the Final reports will be the manuscript with images and excerpts of translations from the writings of Pammal and interviews conducted in the field. The grant funds will cover an honorarium, research assistance, travel and living, stationery and documentation, typing and printing, and an accountant’s fee.
For research into the evolution and development of the Gaana music culture in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. A popular form of music, practiced among the marginalised people of urban Chennai, Gaana in the recent years has become a powerful medium of socio-cultural and political expression. Through extensive documentation of the Gaana songs and the lives of its performers, and an indepth analysis of the content, this project attempts to study this form in the larger context of society, politics and culture of Chennai in particular and Tamil Nadu in general. The outcome of this project will be a series of essays / articles in Little magazines in Tamil. The research will eventually lead to a book. The Grantee's deliverables to IFA with the Final Report will be the essays and, video and still documentation from the project. Grant funds will pay for an honorarium, food and accommodation, local travel, equipment rental, professional fees, books, materials and stationery and an accountant’s fee.
For the creation of a dance piece that reinterprets a traditional Bharatanatyam composition called Mohamana. In the context of its history and the current practice of Bharatanatyam where the woman’s body has been constructed through the male gaze, this work attempts to de-objectify the female dancer’s body by questioning and critiquing the deeply embedded representations of Indian feminity in performance and in everyday life. The outcome will be a performance that will premiere at the Kochi Biennale in December, 2016 and will continue to be performed at the Biennale up to March 2017.
For research to develop a modern, metaphoric interpretation of classical Tamil poetry and artistic depiction of the desert landscape of Palai in Sangam literature. In a cinematic form, the exploration will foreground the context of Tamil workers who have migrated to the Middle East.
For the creation of a performance that explores the functioning body as contraposed to the performative and productive body. Primarily through the act of jumping, the project seeks to understand and engage with the body outside the frameworks of the performative, competitive, virtuosic or aesthetic. The performance will be created by a team of ten people from diverse backgrounds in the arts, fitness and sports.
For a production on the theme of the mobile phone and its impact on our lives, which is an extension of the theatre group’s endeavour of building theatre pieces based on objects. It questions the effect of technology on our individual and community lives, while simultaneously using the object and its social practices as material for the performance. While the production will be the main outcome of the grant, a detailed documentation of the processes including rehearsal notes, photographs and audio-video recordings, will also be delivered.
For engaging with the Decorative Arts Department of the National Museum, New Delhi for re-staging their collection of brocade saris to make the museum a dynamic space for both research and practice. Bessie’s project will primarily research the effect that the river has on the textile industry with special focus on the Ganges and its influence on the weaving of the brocade sari, and culminate in an exhibition at the National Museum in February 2016.
For research on a community of sculptors who create the popular Swamimalai bronze idols. The project is aimed at understanding how even as a traditional art form is appropriated by governmental institutions, the traditional community both capitalises on and competes with the support these institutions offer. It will further investigate how sculptors negotiate with notions of ‘tradition’, ‘identity’ and ‘commerce’ viewed through the lens of the neoliberal craft industry in India. The outcome of this project will be a monograph-length essay.
For the making of a two-part film on the Draupadi Amman Mahabharatha Koothu festival that is celebrated in over 200 villages in Tamil Nadu every year. Draupadi is the presiding deity of the festival and the Mahabharata is narrated as a story, re-created as theatre and performed as a ritual for her. The first part of the film will explore the mythology of the Draupadi cult and the history of the region, the second part will document the villagers reciting, performing and living the Mahabharata for the duration of the festival.
For conceptualising and producing an installation based on the video documentation of the unique performance language developed in Brhannala, a production by Adishakti, a Pondicherry based theatre group.