Writer: Helen Grant
B. Ajay Sharma is Resonator's visiting artist for the month of October.
See our calendar for scheduled events with Ajay.
Q: What's the biggest influence that pushed you to pursue performance art?
A: Well, this is a bit of a complicated question for me, but if I had to explain in few sentences, I would say it was just happened. I was not able to understand what I did in the past that led me to this art form, but then one day while I was doing my daily Yoga practice I could suddenly see my body movement in the context of space and how it comes across as an image. So that's how I realized I had performance abilities. But that is not the end of answer. After some experiences in different situations, I found myself still struggling to find my language in performance. I was looking to alternative performance practices in Europe when I met Roi Vaara and several other members of Black Market. They helped me to think about performance and myself as analogy and this idea help me evolve my art a lot.
Q: I read that you had a residency at a contemporary art festival in Budapest, Hungary this year. What was the aim of your performance? How did you prepare for it?
A: I had an idea for the performance when I applied to participate, but after going there and looking at the political and social situations I decided to create a performance with several more layers, which I feel made my performance more informed for the audience who would see it: art people and common people who don't have a lot of engagement with performance art. I also wanted to work in a gallery space as well as an outdoor space. And I've always wanted to work with all types of people and collaborate with them, whatever their background, through cultural exchange. To inspire in them that feeling of physical involvement in a place and time.
The method I used was satirical and mocked the oppressive parts of Indian, my culture, and Western culture. To confront air pollution and the politics behind it, I used a special breathing technique and meditation process. I also used in my drawings images sourced from the Second World War. This time frame is where I pulled a reference image of people protesting against the Hungarian government. So, basically it was a way to give the Hungarian people a reference point in my work to see what I'm trying to do.
Q: What draws you to Norman, Oklahoma? And what are your plans for working with Resonator?
A: One year ago I met Jenna Bryan, from Resonator, at Flash Crises Performance Festival in Kansas City, MO. It is through her that I developed an interest in Norman. I am interested in creating layered performances. I am looking for the Norman community's participation in my research base community practice I plan to do at Resonator, where food is the main communicative element, as it usually is for any society on Earth. These particular performances function as a social practice where anybody can join and participate.
Q: Can you tell me some background on your video "Motherland and Other Stories"? Did pieces from that work end up in "Residue of Performative Acts"?
A: First of all my idea was not to make video. It was supposed to be purely a photographic project, but after awhile certain situations and experiences made me think of turning the idea into a short film. As for the "Residue of Performative Acts" exhibition, I got my first solo show with Galerie Felix Frachon in Brussels. This is where I started working on the video with him. The concept behind the short film is to imbue the abstract performances with a feel for what is going on in my country in pictorial and choreographed way. My short film is very symbolic. It references the extremist right wing ideologies rising up all over the world, even in the U.S. or India.