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Showing posts from September, 2017

ten gestures

I have a presentation next week at COPPA at the RHA in Dublin. My talk is on the ' Five Step Six point Soul Saving Manouevre'  which is about my ongoing work with  gestures, movements and rhythms in worship  and mourning,  culled from the rituals of various magico-religious belief systems in South Asia ( and now including Ireland).  I am always uncomfortable with these talks.  I wish someone else could take over. Which got me thinking. Who would I ask? If there were two people I could coax to present for me they would be James T.Siegel for how he talks about magic in everyday life and Elochukwu E.Uzukwu for his wonderful assertion that worship must always be local.

Working with sign language

In worship, posture, movement and gesture are important elements along with words, rituals and music. But what is gesture? Unfortunately we often, use the term gesture more or less synonymously to movement, action or motion.  Gestures are supplements to language. If we want to read meaning, we look at gestures. A more nuanced way of thinking of gestures is that it brings order to attitude of movements of the body. This attitudes of movements carry a certain semiotic significance that are important to all our communication, with god or otherwise. Our gestures promote the involvement of body, mind and spirit in the act of worship.I am interested to discover how this happens. Here's where sign language comes in. How does sign language compare to gesture? How does it compare to spoken language? Sign language is gestural. It is like speech as in it has a gestural component.Where does the sign stop and the gesture begin? Is sign language a complex systems of gestures developed over cen


What are the important questions in my art? At the centre of my practice is the kavadi ( a burden that is carried during Thaipusam and could involve piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers). Kavadi to me is the ultimate prosthesis to modify our rhythm, our gestures and our movements What has modification of movement got to do with my work? I firmly believe that all our gestures and rhythms are influenced by our acts of worship. These rituals of worship has gradually eroded away the freedom of our movement. Liturgical inculturation moves both ways. Another way of putting this is to think about how we are always trying to become one with god. In preparation for our death we restrict our physical self.  We fetter our movements and try to align ourselves with god. There is an assumption here that the rhythm of the universe is different from yours and a realignment is a prerequisite to a godly existence. All of our movements suddenly become suspect. They have bee

MIcro performances - 5 minutes performances

I study gestures. And often,  I apply a scientific approach to my study. I reduce bodily movements down to their component parts. I strip my objects of study out of their contexts, removing any artifact, clothing or space/place that might interfere or distract.  I often choose to shoot my photographs/videos in a dark studio or in a whited-out space, bereft of all detail. And the work is more times then not the result of short bursts of intense activity. All this helps me bring a certain amount of focus on the gesture itself. This is how my micro-performances came about. I decided to shoot simple, loose ideas quickly. Working with someone like Alina helps tremendously. I appear at my studio with some props and  half-baked ideas. I know what I want and I have a visual in my head that directs me. Enter Alina. She gets me and she gets movement, pose and attitude. I proceed to set up the backdrops and lights for the shoot and we spend 5 to 15 minutes pulling something  out of a set of lo