Inder Salim

New Performance

Grant Period: One year

Performance art has emerged as an exciting domain of contemporary arts practice in India. With vast exposure to diverse art forms, artists are now experimenting with genre-defying practices of performance making. Delhi-based artist, Inder Salim, is one of the forerunners of this practice. With rigour and commitment, Inder has performed for the last 25 years. In 2010, he organised Art Karawan, an international event that travelled through nine cities in the north, with 30 participants from India and abroad. Inder came up with the idea of working and developing new processes with artists and non-artists at this event. The IFA-grant enabled him to implement this idea on a larger scale, creating a discourse around the practice of performance art in India.

According to him, performance art is a potent, intuitive and yet highly evolved strategy that can be used to comprehend the chaotic, the unknown. It is contagious and subverts deeply held sediments of thought. How do we make sense of the act that makes a performance? What is the specificity of the relay of these acts? How do acts grow within the performer and around the performance? These were some of the questions that inspired Inder to conduct a series of workshops aimed at evolving imaginative processes for creating performance work. The workshops, which resulted in specific performance pieces, were open to people from different walks of society. Since each space, Inder believes, has its own context, issues and styles of expression, individuals were able to develop their own distinct modes of expression and styles of performance.

The workshops took place in Delhi, Patna, Chandigarh, Baroda, Shantiniketan, Kolkata, Ranchi, Jammu and Srinagar. In each of these places, Inder spent about a week creating new performances and executing them in the presence of participants and the public. While working in these places, he considered other venues that might be open to such a process. Inder was accompanied by two art history researchers who maintained a journal of notes to capture conversations and images of processes at each location. This yearlong project coincided with the 9-month long Sarai Reader 09 event that took place at the Devi Art Foundation in Delhi. Within this interdisciplinary and multilayered initiative, Inder, along with participants from various places and students and artists from Delhi, created performances and initiated conversations around processes that make such performances possible. The entire process, containing reflections by art critics, was also documented.