The Absent Presence

This year on the 12th of March, Emami Art had the honour of hosting “The Absent Presence” our first live, international, experimental hybrid collaborative-performance, an idea envisaged by Arpita Akhanda in consultation with our Director & Head Curator of our Emami Art – Ushmita Sahu.

“The Absent Presence” was a part of our EA Locus in Focus initiative – a short term project aiming to explore different approaches of art making; by collaborating with various artists from different cities of the world. As a part of this project, we tried to connect with six performance artists through cyber interaction ‘via the lens’ to create a space that exists beyond geographical boundaries; and would provoke the concept of identity, space, interaction, and access to information. 

This project at the same time explores the perception of live performances and how people with access to lenses produce and experience such performances; and how the virtual space can be used as a platform for collaboration.

Arpita Akhanda, an emerging artist in the Indian contemporary art scene, collaborated with artists from around the world on one platform. Claire Nichols (UK), Bhisaji Gadekar (India), Sumedha Bhattacharyya (India), Imaad Majeed (Sri Lanka) and Delphine Mei (Taiwan) joined her in this endeavour.

The main brain behind this idea, Arpita’s works include a series of paper weaving, performances, installations, drawings, and video pieces exploring the idea of migration, memories, and identity. She has been a part of several national and international exhibitions. Through her performance in “The Absent Presence,” she makes use of a lens as a tool to reminiscence about the past memories and connect it with the present. She then utilizes the online platform as a space to engage, introspect, and respond to those memories. During the performance she tried to create a memory space for the past using cloth and stamps from the places she has been to.

Claire Nicholas from the UK is a visual artist, who has been developing an ongoing body of work called Variations; bringing together materials in a continuous making process. She has held several exhibitions in London, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, and Barcelona. During the performance, Claire created a visual response to what she heard from the audio feed to communicate and respond by establishing an abstract visual language. Through her improvised movements and employment of light, shadow, and objects; she transformed the abstract online space into an art.

Bhisaji Gadekar from India is actively engaged with contemporary artists group: Goa Artists Collectively, and primarily works with sculptures integrating it into installations on site and performance art. He has been accoladed with the prestigious “Emerging Artists Award 2020” by the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Award; Junior Fellowship by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and many more such awards for his endeavours in Visual Arts.

Sumedha Bhattacharyya, another artist from India is an Erasmus dance scholar who has travelled, lived with, and collaborated with many art communities, and dance-theatre groups nationally and internationally. She uses dance to converse with the viewers using the camera as a tool to artistically express and self-explore. Her experimental dance films have travelled internationally to Tranzit House Romania, Scotland’s Screen.Dance Festival, San Souci Festival for Dance Cinema, Movimiento en Movimiento International Film Festival, Mexico City, and Numeridanse Tv, France.

We also had Imaad Majeed, a poet and a performance artist from Sri Lanka joining us. Majeed demonstrated how using mirrors and poetry one can explore being seen and unseen. He also explored the role of a narcissist and voyeur by navigating the lens and screen. His poetry works have been published in “CITY: A Journal of South Asian Literature,” his visual poem exploring dress and identity among the Sri Lankan Tamil Muslim community was presented at the Tamil Studies Symposium at York University in 2017.  

The last artist we had the honour of joining our performance was Delphine Mei, an artist and performer born in Taiwan but has practiced her art all over the world in New York, San Francisco, Asiatic lands, Europe, and China. She concocted the performance by devising the spontaneous interaction between the six artists, blurring the fine lines between storytelling and role play. In 2016, her performance project CONNECT+ has won “The Most Provocative Performance” award in Sweden. Her works have been presented in MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art Taiwan, SOHO in the Biennial Art Festival Vienna Austria etc.

Emami Art looks forward to more international events, and aims to bring creative artists and their work to the audience. We promote artists who are passionate towards art.

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