The absent presence
- an international, experimental hybrid collaborative-performance conceived
by Arpita Akhanda
‘The absent presence’ a part of the initiative EA Locus in Focus is a live, experimental, networked cyber-interaction between six performance artists ‘via the lens’ to create a site for contemplation that exists outside of geographic boundaries, while raising critical questions of identity, space, interaction and the access of information. In view of the current climes it also investigates the notion of ‘live-performativity’ and how it is being generated and experienced continually by anyone with access to a ‘lens’ and furthermore, whether this virtual/networked space could be established as a critical, collaborative arena.
Arpita Akhanda collaborated with artists spread across India and the world on one platform. Artists- Claire Nichols (UK), Bhisaji Gadekar (India), Sumedha Bhattacharyya (India), Imaad Majeed (Sri Lanka) and Delphine Mei (Taiwan) collaborated with her for this project.
The performance took place on Saturday 13 th March, 2021 from 5:30 pm at Emami Art, Kolkata Centre for Creativity, 1st Floor amphitheatre zone and the program was also stream live on Emami Art Facebook and Instagram page.
Video of Live performance from Emami Art Gallery.
About The Artists:
Claire Nichols, UK
Claire Nichols is a visual artist based in the UK. For the past few years, Claire has been developing an ongoing body
of work called Variations, where she brings found and fabricated materials together in a continuous process of
making and remaking. Her evolving sculptural compositions become meeting points for encounters with other
creative fields, including sound and movement.
For Claire, the space of live performance is a process of discovery. She will use the collective Zoom platform as an
opportunity to explore simultaneity as well as engage in a process of deep listening. Claire will be tuned in to the
collective audio feed for the duration of the performance, creating a visual response to what she hears, and
establishing an abstract visual language through which she can communicate and respond. She will employ an
expanded photographic vocabulary of light and shadow, working with torchlight, mirrors, and found objects to
explore how the lens has the capacity to flatten and re-imagine tactile space. Claire's improvised movements with
the objects will allow them to destabilize, metamorphose and enter a process of becoming other.
Solo exhibitions include Enclave Lab, London (2017); Barbican Arts Group Trust, London (2018); Space 118,
Mumbai (2020) and Method Art Space, Mumbai (forthcoming, 2021). Group exhibitions include David Roberts Art
Foundation, London; Art on the Underground, London; Banner Repeater, London; Centre Cultural la Mercè,
Girona; and Despina, Rio de Janeiro. Residencies include Space 118, Mumbai; Florence Trust, London; Form
Content, London; Despina, Rio de Janeiro; and Hangar, Barcelona (forthcoming, 2020). Nichols is Course Leader
for the BA Fine Art Study Abroad Programme at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.
Bhisaji Gadekar, India
Bhisaji’s practice shows a keen engagement with performance that moved between multiple social and cultural
spaces both as a form and process. He is presently engaged with the contemporary artist's group: Goa Artists
Collective. He works predominantly in the medium of sculpture, simultaneously integrating other mediums like
site-specific installation and performance art.
His endeavors in the field of sculpture have won him many accolades including the prestigious “Emerging Artist
Award 2020 “ by the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA) “Catalyst Grants” Goa Open Arts Festival
2020, Junior Fellowship, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India in visual art 2017-18 (Subfield – sculpture);
“Chandrakant S.Kerkar Award 2017’’ by Museum of Goa, Goa; State Art Award, 2016 by Kala Academy, Goa. He
has participated in various performance art practices including Theertha performers platform 2019. (Colombo,
Srilanka) Organize by Theertha international artist collective. ‘Between and Betwixt’: special project by Goa Artists
Collective in the Serendipity Art Festival, Goa 2018; The Lusofonia 2018 Macau. ‘Poonam Lodge’, Goa Artist
Collective (Group exhibition), 2018; ‘The Invisible River of Konkani Surrealism’, Serendipity Art Festival, Goa 2017
curated by Vivek Menezes; ‘Khoj workshop’, Goa, 2017 with his artist's group: Por Mar Collective; ‘Lucid Sleep’
curated by HH Art Spaces in the Serendipity Art Festival, Goa, 2016; ‘SENSORIUM’ (love edition) at Sunaparanta
Centre for Art, Goa; ‘Urban Anxiety’ (2014); group performances in Matheran Green Festival, Maharashtra and
Sumedha Bhattacharyya, India
As an Erasmus dance scholar, and a Young India Fellow, through her Masters in Dance Knowledge, Practice and
Heritage, she travelled, lived together, and collaborated with a range of forms, communities and dance-theatre
makers across local, national, and international locations. Her practice brings a fresh viewership of Dance in
conversation with a camera as an expressive, artistic, and pedagogic tool for self-exploration.
PROJECTS Performance includes Artist in Residence, Flame University Pune India Touch the sound, a performance
installation 2019, Body as Archive, Goethe India & Khoj A multi-media performance installation exploring the
ideas of memory, body memory in Indian Classical dance called Kathak 2018, Coalesce| Kadambari, London UK
Re-imagining Kadambari through Kathak, Contemporary Limon Technique & Performance Poetry 2018. Ongoing
publication “Multiple Rhythms”, compiling indigenous traditions and Ongoing publication on Lathi Khela, co-
authored by Lubna Marium under UNESCO. Currently, she is part-time visiting faculty at Ashoka University.
Imaad Majeed, Sri Lanka
Imaad is a poet and performance artist based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This performance will explore the role of the
narcissist and the voyeur in how one navigates the lens and the screen in an always-online world. Employing
mirrors and poetry, the performance explores seeing and being seen.
His poetry has been published in “CITY: A Journal of South Asian Literature”, as well as the local small-press
chapbooks “Lime Plain Tea” and “Annasi & Kadalagotu”. The spoken-word performance of &Thambivamsa was
screened at the 46th NeMLA convention at a panel discussion chaired by Tamil poet Cheran and Nedra Rodrigo.
The 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 poetry and performance art has explored themes of
identity, language, nationalism, late-stage capitalism, sacred space, xenophobia, ethnoreligious conflict and
healing. He has participated in the Eternal Internet Brotherhood/Sisterhood, Theertha Performance Platform,
Colomboscope and Art Dubai. They are one part of the artist collective The Packet, whose work is located in the
intimate and the playful, with a particular focus on the vernacular, collaborative process and conversation.
Delphine Mei, Taiwan
Delphine is an interdisciplinary performing artist, working in the intersections of different fields, and in between
the grey space of performance art and performing arts. She grew up and studied partially in America and Europe,
so her practice is informed both by the east and the west.
Because of the peculiarity of our performing space, both 2d and 3d and perhaps 5d, she devised something like a
children’s game, that incorporates all of the six artists inside to interact spontaneously, much like a Fluxus
happening art which is where her art base from. The boundary between Storytelling and role-playing is blurred
and becomes transparent n lucid - everyone is a storyteller and everyone is a viewer and listener. She wants to see
and explore, experiments with these elements between humans, machines, and elements of unpredictability, and
instant reactions. The reality becomes multiplied and a parallel universe emerges, Where the absent become
visible, the present become invisible.
Selected residencies: American Foundation awardee to Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris France,
DanceShort Amsterdam, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore. Her works have been presented in MOCA
Museum of Contemporary Art Taiwan, SOHO inOT Biennial Art Festival Vienna Austria etc. Delphine has also
worked on screen, shown in places such as the Night of the Arts Helsinki Finland. In 2016, performance project
CONNECT+ has won “The Most Provocative Performance” award in Sweden. Interviews can be seen in StigmaART,
Make+ Shanghai, Stance on Dance Magazine USA.
Arpita Akhanda, India
Arpita’s works are a series of paper weaving, performances, installations, drawings, and video pieces exploring
the idea of migration, memories, and identity.
Through this performance piece, she is looking at the lens as a tool to look at the past memories and connect them to the
present. The camera was the only tool through which her family connected to their memories of different residences
they lived in after partition in form of photographs and the last year she could only connect home during the lockdown
was through the camera and cyberspace. This online platform for her is a space to engage, introspect
and respond to those memories. She will be developing a space of memory in the gallery during the performance
using cloth and stamps of the twenty spaces they travelled.
She has been part of several national & international exhibitions including The Lay of the Land, Exhibit320, Art
and Design Week, New Delhi; Aroh, Emami Art Open Call - Online Exhibition and Mentorship Programme 1.3
curated by Ushmita Sahu; Growing through Interaction 2.0' Workshop with Piramal Art Residency; Departure, a
group show conceptualized by Prasanta Sahu, at Ganges Art Gallery, Kolkata; Freeing the Book: A Group Show,
Blueprint12, The Manor, New Delhi, India ; Inside the fibre, a group show curated by Soma Bhowmik, Artsacre
Museum, Kolkata; Texting Being, Theertha International Performance Platform, curated by Smitha Cariappa &
Jeetin Rangar Colombo, SriLanka. She was a resident artist at Piramal Art Residency for cycle 24- Visualizing the
text, 2019-20. She have received FICA Emerging Artist Award 2020 Extended Support Platform from FICA and
Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation; State Award Fellowship in New Media from Prafulla Dhanukar Art
Foundation,2019 and is also a recipient of National Scholarship by CCRT Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India in