#INTERSECT: Six artists, Three collaborations

Indranjan Banerjee

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The creative process for each #INTERSECT performance is intriguing, with hitches and glitches and rewards along the way. We spoke to some of the artists and tried to gather a sense of where they are with their work and what their experiences, learnings and discoveries have been, through this process of making a collaborative work.

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First up, Surjit Nongmeikapam briefs us about his process of creating Dreams, his collaboration with visual artist Kartik Sood. This is the first time both the artists are working together and the common idea that ran through their brains was the thematic of dreams. Surjit says that Kartik’s works are dreamy and they inspired him since dreams have always been a prominent preoccupation for him and have fascinated him since his childhood. However, the collaboration itself was difficult in the beginning since they live on two opposite ends of the country (Surjit in Manipur and Kartik in Delhi) and communication was difficult. No form of long distance communication does a collaboration of creative ideas any justice. Discussing dreams is an ordeal since most dreams can’t be explained. Hence, the visual presentation of dreams through the performance and thinking about different ways to go about it is one of the larger brain churners in the entire process of creating the performance piece. Time is short and the collaboration is new. Hence the artists chose minimal ways to present dreams through the performance. On a hopeful note, Surjit lets us know that the collaboration has birthed many ideas, some of which did not make their way into Dreams. They are looking forward to the next time they can work together.

Rajan Rathore’s collaboration with visual artist Anpu Varkey brings out other aspects of what collaborative practices embody. Rajan says that the tussle lies between the abstract and the literal. Connecting the two and finding a middle ground was initially a problem, but they have now found another path to take things towards completion, Rajan says. The performance piece Deluge, looks at a dystopic world: environmental issues, urban issues, social issues, human issues – all represented to the point of dystopia and disharmony. The performance uses ‘stop motion’ as a base.  Anpu’s idea, ‘stop motion’ is a video made out of still photos, which becomes the backdrop for Rajan’s grounded movements. However, Rajan initially found it hard to connect movement and body with the already edited stop motion video. In the process of collaborating and creating the piece he has had his own moment of discovery — the process of creating art is a more private process for a visual artist than a performance artist. For a visual artist, the process involves mostly the self and thus, possibly, a process with less room for doubt. For Rajan, this was not the case since he constantly needed a “third eye,” audience feedback, comments and opinions to judge his own work and develop it accordingly during its making.

Rajyashree Ramamurthi and Susanta Mandal are in the final stages of working on 16’’ = 1mile. Both have stayed with the work, conceptually and otherwise, since March 2016, so it has been some time since they have layered the basic framework of their work. Now, they are working towards further fine-tuning. Susanta looks at the collaboration as “extending their individual practice to different levels.” Susanta is a visual artist and Rajyashree is a choreographer/performer. Their inquisitiveness drove them to collaborate and arrive at a new aesthetic. Rajyashree spoke about a particular instance during the process of making their work, when an observer commented that the difference in how each of them engages with the performance is prominent, since one is a dancer and the other a visual artist. One is easy with movements and one’s own presence in the space and the other is not. Should one be in the space? How should one be in the space? What does it mean to be present in one’s body with and without training? Both have taken this key characteristic of their individual movements into account and have worked with it.

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