ART The genre of performance art which is making waves across the world, is represented quite well at the fourth India Art Fair
It made noise in the '60s and the '70s, experienced a low in the subsequent years. And now, it is back in the reckoning. World over, the art fraternity is engaging with the genre of performance art, with renewed sense and spirit. And it's not just American art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg we have to thank for her seminal study — “Performance Art: From Futurism to the Present” — now a key text in universities, and her hugely successful Performa, a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts organisation exploring the endless opportunities with the form. It's the collective effort of many art bodies, art entrepreneurs and individuals.
Back home, performance art has been registering some presence eliciting support largely from private initiatives but will take long to be integrated into the “mainstream”. This year's India Art Fair is giving performance art a fair push by including so many in its schedule. The most significant occurrence in the direction is KHOJLIVE 12, an evening of back-to-back live performances on January 27 at blueFROG, The Kila, organised by Khoj International Artists' Association. The event aims to provide a critical understanding and experience of time-based art, its context and value other than in monetary terms by featuring a cross-section of artists/artistes like Divya and Rajyashree as part of Gati Dance Forum, artists Inder Salim, Rashmi Kaleka, Ravi Kant, Rohini Devasher, Subodh Gupta and Vivan Sundaram, theatre practitioner Maya Krishna Rao, musician and conceptual artist, Mukul Deora, etc. Pooja Sood, artistic director of Khoj, says the idea is to expand the concept of live art. “We are trying to move away from the usual, which is about individuals looking at their bodies and have things which will elicit active participation from the audience like we will have social gaming between Indian and Pakistan.”
Yet another interesting project to be showcased at the Fair is Art Projects Zurich-supported “Living Works of Art” by Preeti Chandrakant. Responding to an email, the artist's manager Purushartha Saini says, “Though it is not performance art in the strict sense — the Living Works of Art are humans, who have been turned into works of art — they may perform pieces if they feel like.”
Also, Melbourne-based gallery Sarah Scout Presents, confirms bringing Simone Slee, Head of the Sculpture and Spatial Practice Department at the VCA, Melbourne's leading art school, to the Fair. Vikki McInnes, Director, Sarah Scout, says over e-mail, “Simone Slee will produce new work in continuation of the ‘How Long' series, large scale images of herself holding up a sign reading ‘How long can I hold this up?'. She has a very interesting practice that comprises sculpture, video, photography and performance.”
Neha Kirpal, Founder and Director of the Fair, admits that compared to last year, performance art will register increased presence this time. The genre, she feels, fits into their scheme of things, which is to educate the masses on art. The much-hyped performance “To India With Love” by Yoko Ono, was recently held at the India Habitat Centre as part of the several collateral events of the Fair. The celebrated peace activist, musician and artist, also the wife of the late Beatles singer John Lennon, was brought to India by Vadehra Art Gallery, which is also having an exhibition of the artist “Our Beautiful Daughters”.
( The Fourth India Art Fair is being held at the NSIC Exhibition Grounds at Okhla Industrial Estate, New Delhi, till January29.)