“Performance” Art by Dimple Shah

“Performances” Another dimension of Visual Arts

Visual arts are a mute language, also no movement available in this language. That had become a restricted dimension for the visual artists to express. They experimented for a newer way and imagined, if the painting acts and acquires a movement, how does that work? They transformed themselves to become the painting image and started expressing the way they want meaningfully. This is a step forward in the field of painting in 21st century. This is popularly known in the name of ‘performance’. Dimple Shah lives in Bangalore, comes to the platform of arts every time with a new thought. A conversation with her-

You always have new performances to add. How does one learn this performance art? Is it another section in visual arts?

This is not a separate division. It is one of the experiments put forward by visual artists.

Which section of art you studied? Why did you switched on to performances?

I studied B.Com earlier. Mr. Girish Karnad like stalwarts took workshops for us in the college. I developed a taste in theatre at that time. I worked almost for 5 to 6 years in the theatre arts, both, on the platform, off the platform. I used to make drawings also. One of my friends saw my drawings and advised me to study in Fine Arts. I applied and studied painting Diploma in Ken School of Arts Bangalore in 1998, and did my Post Diploma in Print making in Baroda Fine Arts in 2001. I had the experience of working in theatre and that probably initiated me to think about performances along with my visual art studies.

Do you work painting, print making and performances as separate sections and independent of each other?

No. Performances are taken by artists as a medium to convey social messages. Once I made a performance in Zurich. I based it on our Indian women who make living out of rolling papads. This activity helps women in economic empowerment. I made papad in front of the audience, printed designs over those papad with print making blocks and made images over them. This includes the statements on women’s empowerment and small scale industry, printing designs is incorporating print making methods in the performance.

It is very nice. Did you make any more performances on women’s empowerment?

I always work on new themes. When I performed in Nigeria I included their head dress in my performance. Every society has it’s own and different life styles. I also work on many other themes not only related to women’s themes. Once I went to a coal depot, looking at black coal, many curious thoughts came to my mind. Everything was black, I felt Black could be the end point on every issue. Same coal cured under the earth layers for thousands of years, that would become a diamond. Those thoughts prompted me to think different. Everyone has to look into the self for introspection. Once I gave a performance with black in total costume thinking about these thoughts.

What is this photograph, looks like electric lights are put in your hair?

Once our group of friends thought of looking into the changes set in Bangalore city.  I designed my performance on jasmine flowers of our childhood. We used to have Jasmine flowers fully adorned on hair plaited in our childhood. Scented jasmine flowers were beautifully looked everywhere at that time. Now the IT industry has kept the city busy for all the 24 hours. LED lights are lighting the city throughout the night. I wanted to say beautiful past of Jasmine scent is evaporated in LED lights and I performed having arranged electric bulbs in my hair plaited.

Could you convey that message to audience?

People do not know much about performance art. People only know theatre performance on the stage. This performance is part of the audience. When I perform I keep meeting people and talk to them. When I performed with Jasmine hair plaited I moved around 45mts on busy M.G.Road and was talking to people asking about the changes in Bangalore. They do not understand to begin with. I explained them.

Your paintings have an element of theatre dais?

Painting, print making, and performance everything comes together into my art expression.

Did you find any difference in the performances of India and abroad?

I learnt a lot performing outside India. In Bangalore also lot of experimental work is going on now. I can make lot of experimentation in Bangalore itself and I am enjoying that.

Which one you like the most, Print making or performance?

I like both. I am not going to leave any one out of it.

Interviewed by Dr.M.Balamani.

[Original interview article of this translation was published in Telugu in Sopathi Sunday magazine of Navatelangana news papers on 19th May, 2019]   

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