Archiving Street Performance

When 17 Aug 2020 - 23 Aug 2020
Where abr

United States

Archiving Street Performance, a week of varied performances by street performers from the community of the erstwhile Kathputli Colony (Delhi).

Artist- curator Vidisha Saini is extending her support to the conversation around the history of performance practice in South Asia, and the lived realities of these artists in contemporary times. She has been working with Poornima Sardana, and engaging with street performers from the erstwhile Kathputli Colony (Delhi). On abr for next week, Saini has invited puppeteer Bhagwan Das, magicians Ishamuddin Khan and Rahman Shah, and Kamaicha musicians Firoze Khan, Ghewar Khan and Dara Khan; with the star feature being an extensive conversation between the Great-India-Rope-Trick-Master: Ishamuddin Khan and Vidisha: ‘Archiving Street Performance’, delving into the history of street performers, the challenges of policy, gentrification, and othering that the performers face, and means to get dignity for these communities.

For abr, we will have some archival, and some new works made during the lockdown. Bahgwan Das highlights the current conditions through his performance; Ishammudin Khan engages us with a witty commentary of these Covid-19 times through his magic tricks; the group Ghewar Khan, Dara Khan, and Firoze Khan presents a Kamaicha performance with a Dholak; and Rahman Shah wows the children of the camp with storytelling, levitation, and other tricks.

The various kinds of performers who had been residents of Kathputli Colony were removed, and relocated to a transit camp in North Delhi in 2016. They are still awaiting proper rehabilitation, and these trying times of lockdowns and social distancing, some of the performers have gone home, and most of them have lost means of income, as there is limited possibility of translating their craft to the digital format, or get back to the streets to a paying audience.

Vidisha has been aiding and raising funds to directly support families of some of these artists, and has initiated a fundraiser which will be publicized through their performance pieces on abs as well.

Caption for the attached image: Ishamuddin Khan performing at Busker Festival, Wroclaw City, Poland, 2016 (photo by Antonia Labella) – Image courtesy of the artist

About abr
abr is an alliance of cultural practitioners coming together over shared vulnerabilities, to create a circle of care, communality, and conviviality in these uncertain and difficult times. As we register the detrimental fallout from the Covid-19 crisis within our proximate circles and beyond, it feels vital to find ways to come together, to witness these critical times, to link our homes, our solitudes, our labours, and most importantly to have each other’s backs. As an immediate response, abr seeks to create a network of support by commissioning short performances or digital works from artists and performers who have recently seen a shrinkage in opportunities for commissions, collaboration, feedback and presentation.

Named after the Urdu word for cloud, abr alludes to both the enhanced prominence acquired by the digital as well as the amorphous collectivisation and the promise of rejuvenation borne by every cloud. By employing an interdisciplinary, interpersonal and inclusive approach, we seek to expand the offerings and formats of performance as well as the virtual.

The abr team:
Anne Couillaud | Adwait Singh | Priyanshi Saxena | Shaunak Mahbubani

For more information please click here.

Image courtesy of the event organizer.