LOOKING BACK / LOOKING FORWARD

Performance begins on the divine stage,
A character walks in, disguised and mystical.
No face, no gender, no label, no state,
In the rhythmic movement narrating a fable.

Created with adoration and ambiguity,
Trapped in a mortal body like mine.
A glance of wisdom, a strange choice,
Rescuing remains from oblivion.

Eyes fixated on the unknown,
Waiting for subliminal messages.
We can’t hear, we don’t know it yet
Searching for answers beneath the layers.

Lights out! colors melt into delusion,
Leaving us with a greatest question.
Torn between reality and illusion,
What we take, what stays behind?

Reciting a folklore from the past to remind us of the existence of queer and transgender people in our history since the beginning. Despite their significant contributions to art, music, dance and many other facets of culture, we have erased them from our historical narrative. They have always been a part of deep cultural images and they don’t belong to any type of conservative heteronormativity; it’s society’s definition of gender that has created a deep chasm full of hate, disrespect and discrimination. Art bridges the chasm and through it; gender identity, color and sexual preference become insignificant.

In the same spirit, the story play is inspired by a genre of art that’s known to have emerged around the 16th century. Distinctively identified by its elaborate colourful make-up, costumes, head dress and vividly painted faces of artists, actors and dancers narrating a fable.

When a character walks in a disguised form, we look at it beyond the outer shell to seek new ideas, wisdom and entertainment. It challenges the gender binary; the labels – man or woman and urge us to move into nothingness. The character wears layers of make up and conceals it’s physical identity as our creativity, our contribution, our voice and our kindness is lost in the gender categorisation that stems from fear of the unknown and stereotypes.

This stage is a bare space to raise bigger questions about identity and self, about what you see in the mirror vs. what you see inside. And, while we nod, reject and get entertained during the play, what is it that we take along and what do we leave behind?

In our mortal self where we find ourselves at the intersection of reality and illusion, what does it mean to not have a caption, to not have a pronoun, to not justify and to just be.


Concept by Ashima Gandhi and Dhruv Kalra | Face Alok Vaid Menon
Styling and creative direction by Ashima Gandhi | Photography by Abhinav Anguria |
MUA/H by Rohit Singh | Costume by Nabi

Ashima

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