Life | Rhythm and Rasas

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Rhythm and Rasas
Text by Mamta Badkar
Published: Volume 17, Issue 5, May, 2009

With creative boundaries melting into one another, two south Mumbai galleries set-aside conventional notions and throw open their space to devised performances and conceptual art, finds Mamta Badkar

Theatrical moves
Jyoti Dogra’s devised performance The Doorway at Gallery Beyond, comes from her understanding of Polish director Jerzy Grotowski’s work. The focus is on performance and sound rather than text. It is rooted in the impulse of the body and the stories that generate from these impulses. “I’m interested in using the mechanism of the body to tell a story. It gives the audience a wider spectrum because you create a sense of an experience, instead of rooting or specifying the experience in a text.” Autobiographical material merges with fairy tales, folk songs and imagined occurrences in this ‘ongoing process-based work’. When Dogra crouches some might see a corpse, others a flower about to blossom. The abstractions and absence of a storyline, aims at involving the audience. “I don’t want you to see what I see, but what you see. Some will respond more to the loss of a loved one, others to the violence. It will hopefully teach people about themselves.” Interactive and constantly evolving, The Doorway will be put on again next year, so the audience can gauge how they have changed over the year. The travelling performance will also be seen in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka in the coming months.

Abstract electronica
Project 88 was a patron to conceptual art, when Mukul Deora collaborated with Paolo Alessandrello and Abhinay Khoparzi to engineer Sonic Flotsam. “Flotsam is the debris floating around after a ship sinks... unclaimed, unowned material, like noises in the city. Sonic Flotsam refers to the sampling of everyday ambient sounds or noises like crowds at Chowpatty beach, trains at the station, a factory where I used to work.” This cacophony is used to layer his ‘aural landscape’ with melodies and beats that add texture. So, when Deora plays the piano in a repetitive, structured way, we know he’s paying tribute to 20th century minimalist composers. He attempts to blur the boundaries between music and noise and create ambient sounds that people can mull over. By improvising a large portion of their set, the performances require the attention that Indian classical or jazz music demand. “They work with slowly evolving drone-like layers,” says Deora of the vastly different genres. Sonic Flotsam has been so well received that it’s already on its way to the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo. Deora’s new label Dudup, reminiscent not only of the rhythm instrument but also the heartbeat, is promoting comparable talent.

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