Mayakkam Oxymore, a rather unusual name, right? The show that followed was just as unusual, overflowing with creativity, intensity, bright hues, social messages and a slight element of eeriness. Part of the Bonjour India celebrations, the show is a collaboration of art, culture and technology between India and France. Staged at the Museum Theatre, it started on time but with a mike that threatened to turn silent as the emcee for the evening introduced the artistes, and a shortage of space that forced some members of the audience to make themselves comfortable in the aisles.
Three performers — Bharatanatyam dancer and choreographer Sangeeta Isvaran, computer musician Cyrille Brissot and graffiti artist Marko-93 — came together to put up a show that kept the audience entertained for an hour. The unifying thread here was movement.
Effective use of light
As the lights were turned off, a flash of brown appeared on the screen erected on the stage. It was slowly devoured by a streak of blue light. Next, a pair of big white eyes appeared. As Sangeeta dramatically opened her painted eyes and began to move, Marko popped up with a “Star Wars”-like light sabre in his hand, casting abstract neon images on the screen, his body and hands moving to the beat. Instead of spray paint, he used light for his graffiti as it gave him greater freedom to experiment. “This form of graffiti is called real time light painting,” Marko explained.
Later, showing off his gadget he gleefully added, “I can also get a mix of colours on my sabre by pressing these buttons!” On the dimly lit stage, he seemed far from his cheerful self. In his black hooded track suit, he resembled the hook-in-hand fisherman from “I Know What You Did Last Summer”. It went well with the creepy music Cyrille churned out, seated on the edge of the stage. A skinny silhouette with curly long hair and a free flowing beard, Cyrille moved, shook and occasionally jumped around, frantically wiping the stage with polythene and wildly scratching the surface of the screen to create a particular sound. The music he played was a fusion of Carnatic and GRM (Groupe de Recherche Musicale). “I have used only sounds for the show. I believe it is important to use objects picked up from the place I perform to create sounds. I use everything to create music not just the instruments,” he said in his heavy French accent.
Having worked with underprivileged children and conducted gender workshops in different parts of country, the central theme of Sangeeta's dance revolved around gender-related issues. A mixture of Bharatanatyam, Koothu, Kuchipudi, Kalaripayattu, Javanese and Balinese styles, the performance had Thilagavathi and Lakshya accompanying Sangeeta. While Thilaga's performance was reflective of her fight to break social barriers and perform on stage, Lakshya depicted a struggle that dealt with a transgender issue — of accepting herself as a woman.
Mayakkam Oxymore also has the Prix de la Creation to its credit. With a bit of dance, music and painting, it is the first time such a show has been performed in the city. Overall, it was a serious programme with a few lighter moments, provided by Marko.