An exhibition featuring an 18-hour live performance by the Indian performance artist Nikhil Chopra is to open at Wolverhampton Art Gallery this November. Shakti: Nikhil Chopra (16 November – 5 April 2014) is the culmination of an exciting and ambitious contemporary arts programme that has explored the cultural and artistic relationship between Britain and the Indian Subcontinent.
Nikhil Chopra works across a number of media including performance, painting and photography to reflect upon personal histories and India’s colonial past. The exhibition will feature existing works from this exciting artist, who has exhibited extensively in India and internationally, including the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. The Inside Out series of photographs will be displayed alongside a curated selection of objects from the Gallery’s Indian decorative arts collection as well as Victorian oil paintings which reference colonialism.
Following on from Chopra’s 65-hour performance earlier this year at the Manchester International Festival, the artist will be undertaking an 18-hour live performance at Wolverhampton Art Gallery played out over three working days from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 November 2013 (10am to 4pm). This will create a new work, which will remain on show for the duration of the exhibition.
“I would like to start with looking at and drawing people from Wolverhampton’s South Asian community, recognising the deeper, historical and cultural connections that can be as simple as being able to speak with each other in fluent Hindi or Punjabi. The words Space Oddity allude to the strangeness of a place and Space Oddity is the title of a 1969 song by British Glam Rock icon David Bowie. 1969 was a time in British history of rock n roll, women’s rights, the empowerment of the working class, booming Western economies and migrants in their 100,000s arriving from the ex-colonies. Placed somewhere between a migrant worker dressed in an English suit to the freedom with which 70s glam rock celebrated its identity, I will draw.” – Nikhil Chopra
His performance will be inspired by the Gallery’s collection of Indian artefacts. Entitled Space Oddity, Chopra will convert part of the exhibition space into a portrait gallery and will invite people in the audience to sit and pose for him. Portraits drawn in charcoal will line the walls and he will examine the role of portraiture in the Art Gallery’s collection. Costumes for the performance have been designed by Loise Braganza.
“Wolverhampton Art Gallery holds an extensive collection of South Asian art and Indian artefacts, which are testament to the Victorian craze for ‘exoticism’. We are delighted that Nikhil Chopra will be visiting Wolverhampton and responding to our collection with a performance piece specially created for the city.” – Curator Jane Morrow
Nikhil Chopra was born in 1974 in Calcutta and now lives and works in Goa. He studied art in Mumbai, India and Ohio, United States and has been internationally acclaimed for his work which blurs the boundaries between theatre, performance, painting, photography and sculpture. Chopra describes these many artistic processes as a form of storytelling that intermingles familial histories, personal narrative and everyday life. Drawing on autobiography, India’s colonial history and the fetishisation of ‘the exotic’, Chopra creates intense and deeply layered site-specific experiences for audiences which unfold over many hours and days, culminating most typically in an exhilarating fusion of performance and large-scale drawing which remains in the gallery space as a residue of the artist’s time spent there.
The Shakti: Nikhil Chopra exhibition will be accompanied by a rich programme of events including a Winter season launch event at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Friday 15 November 2013 (5.30pm to 8pm). Free entry. The three day live performance featuring the artist Nikhil Chopra will take place from Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 November 2013 (10am to 4pm)