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.
For the production of a film on Koothu-p-pattarai (KPP), a pioneering theatre group in Tamil Nadu. Video recordings of KPP’s activities over the last fifteen years will be complied, interreted and edited to capture the evolution of a very particular syntax of experimental theatre, the tensions within the group and the changes it has witnessed. Fresh footage will also be shot to illustrate KPP’s present character and highlight viewpoints critical of the group’s artistic vision and accomplishments.
For translating a theatre group’s production Brhannala into a film envisaged as a work that will explore the intrinsic differences between theatre and cinema in relation to ideas of space and time. Members of the theatre group, who are used to sharing a physical space with the audience, would be led to re-imagine their roles when they act in the film.