Grantee Update: Sharmistha Saha
Sharmistha Saha is the AAA-Inlaks Grantee of 2017
I received the AAA-Inlaks grant last year for my project on the archives of colonial Indian theatre. It is an art grant that has helped me to explore questions surronding performance art in India. I am mainly conducting research at archives of Calcutta and Bombay and urban theatre traditions that developed here. My research will amalgamate into a performance piece, yet to be named, in collaboration with playwright/dramaturg Ashutosh Potdar.
The project has been able to engage theoretically with questions of performance making and its relationship to history, memory and the archive. One of the initiatives that was possible as a result of the grant was an international conference 'Performance-Making and the Archive'. He conference was a confluence of artists, scholars, archivists and curators who questioned and pondered over what it really means to work with material from the past. Are there responsibilities, ethical or even political ones or is it an open space that allows for explorations re-enacting that which has been acted before? Is it some kind of a loop? Is this loop mundane or is invocation to address exceptions?
With these questions in mind the project is now looking at how laws have been conceived moulding existent languages of being, performances if you like or even theatre if you will. The project considers the making of different laws incorporating what was thought to be seditious and obscene or immoral in the colonial context often renaming forms to best suit the imperial purpose. Law and its relationship to power thus becomes apparent which has even played around with often changing the semantic landscape when required.
These thoughts from the past are now taking form in the work that I along with my team Qissa Kothi are doing. It incorporates different visual and performance media. We are trying to grasp the past elements and through a language of bodily and material metaphors we are now creating a piece which should be ready by the end of this year. The piece will be a tunnel within time that allows for access to a bygone era.