thotseat : sahej rahal
23 november 2017
Dry Salvages (2017)
Dry Salvages (2017) at Primary, Nottingham
S: I have a confession: I think I've watched the CCA’s Barracadia (2017) promo at least fifty times now. It’s 65 seconds are so intriguing. That voice. That Indian voice. It takes me instantly to my living room. As dramatic as an Indian soap but also appearing as historically and almost religiously important as a television depiction of the Ramayan. There are certain clip which are louder than the rest. One visual is the sirens, another is the climbing of the cage and the final for me is the person with the mask hanging off that vehicle and waving. It reminded me of the frivolousness of India - socially, politically, personally, on the road… I believe it’s that authenticity that really feeds Barracadia and gives us in the western world a sense of beautiful, perfect or utopian as wild, primal and organic but ultimately, real.
S: What about your experience of India as a place/setting inspires your work and how much does it affect it?
SR: This is what Bombay is like - a kind of bricolage. Even if you just think about it architecturally, you have colonial/Victorian architecture, then you have this kind of glossy art deco, still matted with dust - then you have your post modern glass and chrome. All layered on top of one another - it feels like it was constructed last night.
There’s also larger ways of beinghere, where you see a bit more of a marked difference in terms of identity, for example.
There’s a colonial law that has come back in place - Article 377 which bans unnatural sex or whatever that means. A blowjob can be unnatural sex, right? Who’s to talk about what’s unnatural? My work is reflective of ideas that come from this kind of colonial hangover - even Neo-Colonial-Imperialism that the country’s inflicting on itself.
But then being here just on an every day level also feels like there’s this kind of collapse of being. I’ve been thinking about this split of the self and the other - the binary of the mind and the body split. When you look at Eastern thought, you don’t have this split. Both of these places are almost instant and logic and embodied simultaneously as are our social identities. We embody all of our selves at the same time in a very frivolous way. The self is at ease when it’s frivolous with itself.
Coming back [to India] feels like that. I can be frivolous with the way I move through languages - through Hindi and Punjabi and Marathi at the same time. And English.
Bombay also being it’s kind of own madness adds to that.
S: That’s a madness that works in real time. The madness of animals on the road, of the driving system etc. Yet, anything other than that in places such as India is frivolous. I feel that there’s a sense of that that might inform the way Barracadia works as a world, or non-world.
SR: Yes, it is a non-world - still kind of becoming itself. That’s how I’m thinking about protest as well - being is becoming and vice versa.