“Every moment, everywhere, everybody is actually delivering a performance,” explains Indian conceptual artist Mithu Sen. Performance artists today make use of this broad definition of performance, placing their bodies front and center as both canvas and medium, in open conversation with other bodies and environments.
At India Art Fair 2019, performances ranged widely, from Amol Patil’s procession through the fairgrounds invoking the atmosphere of a chawl or tenement to Bangladeshi artist Yasmin Jahan Nupur’s six-hour wordless interactive performance which explored issues of displacement and immigration. “If you put this body in any public space in India, it is political,” says Sajan Mani, an artist who has engaged with caste and colour throughout his career.
A reflection of the contemporary moment and the medium of performance art, all five artists effortlessly combine the political dimension of art and life. “The human body is very powerful,” adds Yasmin Jahan Nupur. “It has the power to show pain and to show love.” Here, we speak to the artists about how they bring their bodies into their work.
Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Sajan Mani, Mithu Sen, Sahej Rahal and Amol Patil were part of India Art Fair’s first-ever performance art programme supported by the JSW Foundation.