For exploring the socio-cultural, historical and psychological understandings of doll traditions in southern Tamil Nadu, towards creating a new language of performance. Through an investigation into the myths, movements, language, songs and politics of these doll traditions, the study seeks a deeper understanding of the nuanced performative elements embedded in these traditions. The outcome of the research will be a performance script.
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 analysing the phenomenon of the emergence of satellite television in the 1990s, which was a crucial factor in Kerala’s social life. By exploring the cultural history of the Malayalam satellite channel Asianet, the project attempts to understand how television is instrumental in refashioning the modern political subject in post-colonial contexts. The outcome will be a monograph.
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 research towards a short film and a website on K Ramanujam (1940-1973), an artist who lived and worked in Cholamandal Artists’ Village, an artists’ commune near Chennai. The research will shed light on the nature of his pen and ink drawings of fantasy landscapes and mythical cities, which reveal how his concerns were distinct from those of other artists at Cholamandal at the time. While the website will include documentation gathered from archival materials and interviews with Ramanujam’s contemporaries, the film will be an artistic response to the spirit of Ramanujam’s artwork.
For a solo, multi-media performance titled Light Does Not Have Arms to Carry Us. Inspired by the structure of richly expressive and percussive piece of music composed for the piano, the project will create a performance combining movement, mime, film and voice.
For research towards a film on work songs, known as Li, sung by the inhabitants of Phek village in Nagaland. These work songs and chants have no lyrics but are vocalizations, grunts and sighs that are transformed into polyphonic melodies, while their music makers are busy harvesting paddy. This research is a part of a larger project to document and share everyday music and rhythms from across India.
For preserving and sustaining the performance practice and repertoire of the Bettiah gharana, one of the oldest and richest traditions of dhrupad. Through interactions with two contemporary musicians living in Kolkata and Bettiah, the musical ecology of Bettiah dhrupad will be documented and reinvigorated. The project will result in a multimedia physical archive located in Bettiah and Kolkata, an online portal and a guided listening DVD of the dhrupad of Bettiah.
For a two-day conference bringing together archivists, scholars, collectors and artists to examine the role of the archive in shaping the history of early Tamil cinema. The publication of the papers presented at the conference, along with an exhaustive filmography of Tamil films from 1930, will serve as a basic reference for further research.
For the replication of the seventeenth century Ramayana murals of the Chengam Venugopala Parthasarthy temple on other media, including Kalamkari and digital animation. As an exploration of alternative forms of mural conservation, reconstruction and restoration, the relationships between the visual arts and animation, artists and filmmakers, conservators and the lay public will also be examined. This process will be disseminated via a multimedia website.