Put Together, It Becomes a Whole: Performance Artists You Should Know

Strong and subversive, performance artists Jelili Atiku, Maya Krishna Rao, Raisa Kabir and Piyali Ghosh open up about their inspirations — and issues that matter to them the most

Contemporary South Asian artists approach performance in different ways, drawing from different performance traditions, and to different ends. However, what they share in common is a central interest in the body in space and time. The artists showing their work at India Art Fair reflect on their unique experiences and the ways in which they intersect with a range of issues, from gender, politics, religion to the history of colonialism. 

Nigerian artist of international fame Jelili Atiku invites us to play with the colour yellow, dense with religious and spiritual meaning in both India and Africa. Feminist theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao in turn plays with the notion of the “loose woman” in a solo performance of the same name. While British-Bangladeshi artist Raisa Kabir draws on the violent history of textiles and Indigo dyes in her work, Piyali Ghosh draws on the themes of the ancient Indian epic The Mahabharata in the telling of the story of an anonymous woman character.

Together, the artists present a richness of theme, tradition and experimentation. In this film, they open up about their inspirations — and the range of possibilities inherent in performance art.

Best known for their historical and richly layered work, Jelili Atiku, Maya Krishna Rao, Raisa Kabir and Piyali Ghosh were invited to take part in India Art Fair’s performance art programme in 2020.