In the West, early performance art marked a return to the body in response to minimalism and abstraction. In the India, however, where figuration was never completely lost to pure abstraction, the body receives renewed significance through the dialogic ability of performance based art, whether it immerses the audience within the work or by means of their relational encounter with the social space of the performance. In this context, performance art necessitates an engagement with actions by the artist(s), which receives meaning only in the presence of an audience, whether it is live or lies at the interface of different media such as film, photograph, social media or audio recording.
When the passive consumption of shock packaged as click-bait, or the condition of being at the receiving end of the State’s propaganda machine permeates everyday experience, how can art extend the limits of affect and encounter to meaning making? How can performance artists ensure that their work is not reduced to subversion for its own sake? The answer does not lie in mass address vis-à-vis traditional media or perhaps even language (except for utterances and sentences that can never end) that has arguably collapsed and ensconced itself into sloganeering and counter-sloganeering — for every sentence that has a beginning and an end does not escape ideological closure. The discursive potential of performance art escapes this predicament and has the dialogic capacity to lend perceptibility to immaterial social relations that bind together diverse publics within the contingent space of the work. Consequently it is able to unravel the assumed singularity of majoritarian politics and passive consumption. It also has a unique capacity to extend the immediacy of affect traditionally supported by an artwork and sustain it until the audience shakes out of their state of encounter to assume a participatory role, forming unique, meaningful associations with each act.
This workshop will be an exploration of these ideas, and consider how meaningful, dialogic action can inform the making of a work to subvert the information landscape of our times.