The Public Art Grant 2010 supported artist Samudra Kajal Saikia proposed project titled “Apna hi Ghar Samjho: Mobilizing the House”, a performance-based mobile public art project, which will finally be located/performed in Guwahati, Assam, in September 2011. This project is a part of a larger multimedia-performance initiative by Saikia on the “Imagery of Ghar”.   

Through the act of ‘construction’ and ‘procession’ of a Ghar (house/home) the project will primarily set up a dialogue with the local public and bring together a community of artists to deliberate upon the idea of Ghar, as not only a physical entity but also as emotional, sentimental and romantic constructions within each individual. The performance/procession will address the idea of dislocation and exile, a very prevalent contemporary phenomenon, by literally removing the Ghar from its initial location and taking it on the road - almost like a “cultural procession”.        

The project seeks to deal with critical issues related to performer-spectator relationships, and the consequent paradigm shift that occurs with changed contexts where these relationships are played out. To Saikia, this problem of “shifting spaces” is one that is a part of contemporary reality. What happens to a rural spectator when s/he enters to an urban auditorium? What happens to a performer while entering an arena of visual art practice? How do these shifts - language shift, formal shift, paradigm shift – operate/affect the role of an actor and the spectator? How long does one remain an outsider or alien to a comparatively new art practice and through which process does s/he become an insider? Or, on the other hand, at what a juncture does an insider start feeling alienated? Through this experimental project, Saikia will explore the homogenising circumstances that allows for the exchange to experiences between the performer and the spectator, while addressing this continuous inside-outside conundrum.        

Samudra Kajal Saikia is a performer, writer and art historian, who has been involved in several theatrical performances with amateur artists/performers since his graduate days. Saikia completed his BA in Art History from Kalabhavan, Santiniketan in 2005 and MA in Art History from Faculty of Fine Arts, M.S. University of Baroda in 2007. As a writer focused on cultural criticism, he has contributed to several North-East Indian publications since 1995. Saikia has had brief stints as researcher at NID-Ahmedabad and as visiting faculty at Delhi College of Art, and is now fully engaged in his work as Founder-Creative Director of Kathputhlee Animation Studio, New Delhi in which he started working in 2007. Through the initiative of “Kankhowa – working with interfaces”, a national performance-cum-research group, Saikia has developed and works with a theatrical form termed ‘The Disposable Theatre’, which comes from a multi-disciplinary paradigm.