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SURFACE SCRATCHES

INDIRA LAKSHMI PRASAD

The line between art and life should be kept as fluid, and perhaps indistinct, as possible. – Allan Kaprow.

It’s difficult to pin point the exact origins of performance art. Having had a crucial role in the Dada and Futurism movements, it’s been a key part of the avant-garde movement in the twentieth century, and only further evolving into the twenty first century. It can be said that the most significant rise in the performance art movement has been in the 1960’s during and after the decline of modernism and abstract expressionism.

Today, in 2017, we have a wealth of performance art happening in India, right on our doorstep. Practising artists have brought a phenomenon which is largely associated with western art movements, into gallery spaces around India. Not only has physical migration increased in recent times, but also the free movement of ideas. Artists here are adopting and adapting processes used all over the world and spinning their own unique flavour into them. Performance art, as we know it in the Fine Art and avant-garde context, has been adopted into the expressive arsenal of artists all over the country.

In the South Delhi art hub, NIV arts, performance artist Jeetin Rangher held the second edition of Surface Scratches, part of the Art Explosion art initiative taking place between Delhi and Bangalore. As an artist and migrant, Jeetin is continuously trying to find his roots, while trying to explore and find places in which to hold Art Explosion events. His family migrated from Lahore and Rawalpindi, Pakistan and settled in Delhi. Though Jeetin himself never truly settled in Delhi, he has described his experiences there as being full of stories of those who had similarly migrated to Delhi from far and near. Jeetin sees himself as a migrant in both Delhi and Bangalore, having grown up in Bangalore and experienced growing up as a Sardar while trying to fit into South Indian society. These personal features have definitely become an influential force behind Jeetin’s art practice.

Commenting on the unique environment which has evolved in Delhi, the artist states ‘Delhi is core of this country, and is very volatile in its nature, built on by migrants from all over the world, it is constantly changing socially. Delhi is divided into different pockets through these migrant communities. All these communities have their stories of migration and conflict of settling in Delhi.’ ‘

The technological obsession of our age was utilised by artist Renu Bariwal as she asked each spectator to share their mobile number with her, and subsequently Whatsapp messaged her latest video work, her work evading our personal devices, providing a stark contrast between the phone screen and the natural parched mud of the earth which the artist manipulated with objects during the film; the phones operating as a form of faux window.

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