Live Art Workshop: “Body as Barometer” [New Delhi]
For its third edition, the Live Art Workshop will be taking place in New Delhi, India from 2-14 October 2022 under the curation of Khoj. The Live Art Workshop is a roving series of collaborative professional exchange workshops that harnesses the international network of Pro Helvetia around the development of new work in the live arts field, and new circuits for the presentation of that work. The New Delhi edition follows after the inaugural 2019 edition in Cape Town curated by the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA), and subsequent 2020 Swiss edition co-organised by Arsenic Lausanne and Kaserne Basel and taking place in a hybrid format due to the constraints of the pandemic.
For their programming of the Live Arts Workshop, Khoj wishes to locate the body as central to the making of live arts, and thus simultaneously locate the quality of liveness that emanates from the body. In this framework, the body emerges as an ever-sensing tool, interacting with atmospheres, architectures, materials, technologies, interfaces and communities, mediating affect. The body becomes a barometer – a measure to understand the many lived ecosystems that fabricate the identities that we embody – negotiating the ecological and the technological, the natural and the built, the physical and the digital, the individual and the collective, where the body is central to the negotiation.
When looking at the hyphenated history of performance practices in the South Asian region and many other regions in the Global South, the above articulation of the body is bound to be juxtaposed with tradition, as the body has historically served as an archive for traditional performance practices. What can be learned from them and what is denounced? As engagement with traditions are married into the contemporary space, a shift occurs. This transition, of taking culturally specific thinking into the contemporary is moderated through the body as medium, the same body that becomes the interface in our hyper-digital immersive engagements, and that negotiates changing natural and built environment through constant calibration.
The Live Arts Workshop will be a space for performance practices and contemporary creative practices across mediums to interrogate “liveness” and locate the body in the above framework. During the course of the 10-day workshop, “Provocateurs” will lead workshops with “Respondents”, offering prompts, provocations, and expertise in their respective fields. Through this process the “Respondents” will develop new live art works that will be showcased at the end of the workshop during the Open Studio public showing on 13-14 October.
Namibian performer and writer Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja has been invited to participate in this edition of the Live Art Workshop as a Respondent, and has proposed the following premise for his new work:
What happens when the body appropriates the terms that it has been marked with by the social fabric? How generative is it to interface these terms with the body’s matter and archival potential? What kinds of temporalities and orientations does it produce? This experimentation will explore the body’s endurance and resilience in processes of appropriating these social labels. I draw on African queer theorist Zethu Matebeni’s thinking which situates Queer in relation to Kwere Kwere (a term used to refer to African immigrants in South Africa), to show how queer and migrant experiences are not mutually exclusive. Kwere Kwere is also the sound and call of a drum which the body responds to in rhythm and movement. The experiment will be a process towards an understanding of the trans-temporality of the body as well as its speculative potential. Kwere Kwere as a speculative practice is concerned with embodying liveness in the (meta)physical and sonic sense.
Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja is a cultural worker, educator and writer with practice-research interests in performance, archives and public culture. He is currently based in Windhoek, Namibia after completing his PhD in Performance Studies at the University of Cape Town. Mushaandja’s work has been performed widely at festivals, museums, theatres and archives in Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Cameroon and Namibia. Previous records of Mushaandja’s performance work as Tschuku Tschuku include Black Bantu Child (2012) and Trance !Namib Freedom Station (2017). The latest Tschuku record Ondaanisa yo pOmudhime was released in September 2021 and is available on all online platforms and on CD. Mushaandja’s latest performance project is ZILIN: for the first and future African sonic stars was premiered in 2021 at the National Arts Festival (Makhanda, South Africa) and Zürcher Theater Spektakel (Zurich, Switzerland) where it was awarded the ZKB Public Choice Award. He is also engaged in curatorial and research leadership in his work as a co-convener of the annual Owela Theatre and Performance Seminar at Odalate Naiteke Practice-as-Research Programme in collaboration with the National Theatre of Namibia.
[Cover image from the inaugural Live Art Workshop organised by the Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) in Cape Town, South Africa]