The Persistence of Memory: Problems in Documenting and Historicizing Contemporary Performance Art in India | Samudra Kajal Saikia

Samudra Kajal Sakia, the recipient of the Ila Dalmia FICA Research Grant in 2013-14 presented his paper, The Persistence of Memory: Problems in documenting and historicizing Contemporary Performance Art in India at the public lecture on 4th March 2015 at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU.

His talk brought his speculations and findings from his research, Understanding Performance as Art and Beyond: Multiple Gaze. The larger project is engaged in historicizing the new trends of Performance Art in India. Tracing history and evidences in last few decades this project addresses some of the most inevitable research queries.

Instead of a linear chronology the presentation focused on two dialectical key apparatus: appropriating and problematising: how across the time the formal executions of performance try to appropriate itself within 'art' and concurrently how it problematises not only other disciplines but also itself. Thus allowing for the 'multiple gaze' the paper concentrates on a practical understanding. Denying a uni-linear evolution and a singular contextual social history, the contemporary situation appears highly responsive towards a discursive dialogue around its own semiotics. Perhaps this is one of the key reasons why the genre is seemingly gaining prominence in India.

The talk was moderated by Sumangala Damodaran, an economist and a musician, working at Ambedkar University, Delhi who is also associated with the School of Development Studies and the School of Culture and Creative Expressions.

Samudra Kajal Saikia is a practitioner of interdisciplinary art practices (including performance, public art and videos) and a writer. A master of Visual Arts specialized in Art History, and the founder and Creative Director of Kathputhlee Arts and Films, New Delhi, he is also engaged in a self driven theatrical practise coined as Disposable Theatre that works within multidisciplinary paradigms. His research focussed on the connections between performance art and how it needs to be or can be practised with a specific focus on the problems that he faces in the documentation of it both as  a practitioner as well as a researcher.