Monday, November 1, 2010

Risk, Responsibility and Blame- Paribartana Mohanty at Sandarbh

(Paribartana Mohanty)

Paribartana Mohanty rebels to live. Long live rebellion. He rebels to create art. Don’t ask why he is rebellious. Hailing from a village in Orissa, with his ‘self-acknowledged inability’ in articulating his ideas in English and with a lot of anger and doubts in him, 29 years old Paribartana’s rebellion may be ‘misinterpreted again’ by the urban born and urban brought up art critics (who write in Queen’s English and celebrates Lalu English with no reservations) and they might say that he is venting his ‘frustrations’ through his art. That’s how rural lads with lot of creative fire in them are treated initially when they relocate themselves in urban spaces. Paribartana’s rebellion has a charm in it. And I am sure there are so many takers for it now.

‘Misinterpreted Again’ is the title of a performance that Paribartana did at the Sandarbh Nature Workshop in Silvaasa on 29th October 2010. This performance was based on his experience of being invited to a workshop like Sandarbh and being asked to do a work based on a given theme, ‘nature’. ‘Nature’ as an idea has been troubling him for a long time. While doing a residency program in Sarai, New Delhi, he was asked to forget his nostalgic past (which is rural) and was asked to focus on urban spaces. It has been a question for him worth probing, where he could locate the ‘nature’ in him and in his works or even in the surroundings that are ‘given’ to him on a particular context.

(Paribartana at the Sandarbh Nature workshop at Silvaasa)

At the Luhari Resort where the Sandarbh Workshop was conducted has a huge halogen lamp pole in the middle of a rock garden with expanses of lawns around it. Whoever spends time in this garden at night, thanks to the diffused white light flooding from the halogen lamps would think that it is moonlight. This is an accidental simulation of moonlight. For Paribartana, it becomes almost a stand in moon and when he approaches this light with a different logic, even the ‘natural’ moon light gets misinterpreted as a light created by huge halogen lamps.

Paribartana’s idea was to create a plywood cutout of a crescent moon and placing it on the top of the halogen light pole, in a way blocking the light in the shape of a dark crescent, so that the accidental simulation of moon light would become a deliberate one, realizing the interface of nature and culture through the introduction/interpolation of problematized object. While negotiating practicalities of this work, the organizers raised the issue of possible ‘accidents’ that this work could cause. The major points raised were the following: “There is a risk in this act of placing a crescent moon. If anything goes wrong who will take the responsibility. Who will be blamed for any mishap?”

 (Paribartana performing the "Misinterpreted Again' Monologue performance)

Paribartana’s decision to create an object based work transformed into the formulation of a performance piece then and there. The three words that he picked up from the organizers’ talk, ‘RISK, RESPONSIBILITY, BLAME’ became the core of his thinking process. If the production of a work of art could generate ‘risk’ why at all a work is to be produced? If a work of art is dangerous to a society who would take the ‘responsibility’ of producing it? If art could harm a society, who would take the blame for doing it, the artist or those who facilitate the production, dissemination and consumption of it?

(Under the moonlight created by Halogen lamps Paribartana performs)

‘Misinterpreted Again’ is a monologue of/by Paribartana, almost like that of Prince Hamlet (to be or not to be). He speaks of his rural past, the six years that he spent in Delhi as a student of art history and an independent practicing artist. Every day was a ‘de-naturalizing’ process for him; learning to operate within a new socio-cultural and linguistic system, finding ways to negotiate between himself as an artist and a social being. In the performance he speaks about his innocent days where nature was not just a backdrop or an issue and he speaks of the television channels that censure ‘natural’ life of animals only because they have been portrayed as ‘brother and sister’. He speaks of the hundred and one ways of getting ‘cultured’. He speaks of the abusive words. He asks the audience how would it have been had the trees of this forest could speak and act. He raises a series of questions and in this act his naïve speech assumes the quality of a political speech and act, the innocent gestures become the gestures of defiance. And finally he problematizes the artistic act through the notions of ‘Risk, Responsibility and Blame’.

(Paribartana with Bhuvanesh Gowda and Vaibhav Sharma)

While in working in Sandarbh, Paribartana was declared the winner of the FICA (Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art) Emerging Artist Award 2010 in New Delhi. With this award, Paribartana gets a chance to do a three months residency in Switzerland and a solo show in Vadehra Gallery, New Delhi in 2011. Also Paribartana’s collective also has been short listed for one of the Public Art Funds.

At Luhari, Paribartana’s achievements were celebrated by the participants and well wishers. And the FICA Award was celebrated by cutting a cake for Paribartana. His rebellious actions and words were debated. Hugs and tears were exchanged.

(A Star waiting to rise- Paribartana Mohanty)

There is a star in Paribartana. And let’s wait for the rise of this star in Indian art firmament first and later in the international sky. Whoever takes him up, let them be ready for the ‘risk, responsibility and blame’.

I wish Paribartana a great journey ahead.

1 comment:

Hemant Sonawane's Studio said...

Congratulations and Success to Paribartana!