A rainbow spotlight and loud rap welcomed confused looking guests to a half finished rooftop auditorium last Monday night, the 21st. Little did these guests realize that this was to be the most conventional part of the evening… On Monday five artists doing residencies with the Goethe Insitut gave presentations in the PechaKucha format. Though you may not have known it from the presentations themselves. The format, usually quite strict, was pushed to the limits by almost every single one of the artists. The evening began with Dijana Zoradana Elfadivo, a fashion designer originally from the former Yugoslavia, currently residing in Berlin. Here in Bangalore she is a resident at the Yuva Chintana Foundation. Dijana’s slides were each a work of art describing her background, work and views on fashion. One particularly striking slide depicted an old women with lipstick smeared around the borders of her lips. Dijana explained how just like the bumblebee that is unaware that physically and aerodynamically it should not be possible for her to fly, the woman was not constrained by preordained rules. That woman, who Dijana ran into on the street, taught her not to let her work be dictated by the common conceptions of how the world works.
*“*she thinks like me
who says that lipstick
must not be just on the lips
it must be around the lips”
Dijana is humble but the beauty and uniqueness of her work, as well as the thought that goes into it, was clear in every slide. During her residency she has been working with children in rural Karnataka exploring self and identity. To this end she has been running workshops in Aadima at Kolar held by Ramaiah Kotihanahalli (a popular dalit poet playwrite and cultural activist) as well as in in Kabini with Pipaltree, which culminated in a photo shoot with children. She had picked out fabrics and materials in Bangalore and let the children pick out outfits for the shoot. The results were striking, children with green faces, little boys in makeshift saris and patterns on patterns.
Next came 2 Jaaga residents, Kai Tuchmann and Angelique Doludag, who, rebelling against the format chose to divorce themselves completely from their artistic study here in Bangalore, which uses Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” to explore feminine life in India. Instead each slide was an aggressive alternation between red and black. Each time the slide switched the two changed activities, between feeding the audience snacks, lighting candles, reading and chatting up audience members. The audience seemed to be a mix of confused and amused. *Camused *if you will.
Starting his presentation, Fabian Hesse, another resident of our very own Jaaga, appeared to have severe technical difficulties. As he went on the projector, laptop, volume and props were used to disturb his own presentation of the material. “Technology has become so much a part of our perception, we only become aware of it when it doesn’t work,” said Fabian later. He therefore played with the format to drawing the attention of the audience to the technical supports. Hesse announced that he intended to address himself to a character he was carrying under his arm – “Hase mit Ohren”, a plastic golden rabbit with ears of different shapes and sizes – rather than to the public in the room. The rabbit was a reference to a quote by Joseph Beuys who presented images to a dead rabbit, shifting attention to a non-human alternate perspective. He read passages from texts by Roland Barthes and other writers about Plastic as a prosaic and miraculous substance, concentrating on the theme of nature and transformation. As he spoke, Hesse even turned the projector towards the audience, projecting the image directly into their eyes, revealing it while making it invisible at the same time. Finally, he abandoned the projector all together and wandered into the audience showing the rabbit to the audience and the audience to the rabbit.
Last but certainly not least, Anna Marziano, an Italian filmmaker, presented 20 video clips instead of 20 images. Anna is a resident of Srishti College of Art, Design, Technology, where she is teaching, as well as the Experimenta Film Festival. She started by explaining her choice of moving images. She explained, “movement and change are the only evident facts of our condition and so the only evidence facts of my practice through choice of the cinematographic medium and also through and ethical attitude based on the idea of welcoming what we cannot change and trying to transform what we can.” She discussed her film style a bit explaining that both the process and the product are equally important to her. She is especially drawn to the serendipitous moments while filming. Here in India she is shooting the first chapter of an essay-film that will continue when she returns to Europe. She speaks to everyday people, people she meets on the bus, friends, passer byers, and offers opportunities, which she called open meditations on how we interact with each other. Unfortunately Alfons Kgnol was sick and was unable to present his work. Alfons studies the context and connection of sculpture, furniture, interior design and music as forms of culture. In Bangalore he has worked on a sculptured series of bowls (Schalen) and coffee tables as well as a musical piece arising from impressions of the cultural and social codes prevalent in Bangalore. In doing so he has studied the existing dynamic between the economic development of India and the underlying structure and layers of Indian society. The evening ended with questions and samosas. The crowd questioned the way the artists experimented with the boundaries of the format, changing the PechaKucha format into a true exploration in presentation styles of mixed mediums. In a lovely shifting of reference, the audience ended up being asked just as many questions by the artists as the artists themselves were asked.
All in all it was an eventful evening. Though there were some small issues with the acoustics, the space was lovely (thank you Naresh of Cobalt and VA Group!) and the artists engaging. A PechaKucha like never before, and likely never again. Thank you especially to the Goethe Institut, and of course to Dijana, Kai, Angelique, Fabian, Alfons and Anna for all their hard work!