IMPRINTING THE DARK PERIOD
DIMPLE B SHAH AND AUDIENCE
This performance I conceived as I was entering Dhaka through the roads from the airport to a friend’s place. I saw a very big cluster of tricycle wala taking the road by storm and in a road fully packed with traffic; I could only see the struggle and pain in their bodies which they take constantly to survive in everyday life. For me, as a third person who is looking at whole thing as silent observer, I had to swallow the fact that this is way of life in Dhaka to work hard and survive. This got me thinking two things: one is the position of the “Victim” (the cycle wala) and other one is me, the “silent observer.” I wanted to bring both these elements into my performance work.
In this performance my main concern is to bring into being various social issues which act like boundaries for action and for justice. We are constantly consuming this pressure/tension of society on an emotional and mental level and we keep on absorbing these so-called negativities in the form of Darkness, which accumulates in our system like carbon; if we don’t burn out and convert this into energy, it will totally take us to depth of its darkness. My performance will be an attempt to eject all the negativities of our society in the form of bodily actions.
The act was ritualistic process for both my audience and me. I asked my audience vent out their negative emotions—which are negative imprints of society—by writing on the paper which was supported by dozens of sheets of carbon paper. I also also asked them to write these thoughts on the body of my friend who became a part of the performance who was standing in position of “Victim.” I took a third position of observer, but not silent this time. I did a ritualistic act sitting in a very dominating position where I burnt slices of bread on a kerosene lamp and tried to eat all burnt bread without water. It was metaphorically symbolizing that we in the third position also absorb a lot of negativity if we are sensitive. Later, the paper, on which the negative words were written, was also burnt as incense to spread positive energy. Imprinting the dark was the overall performance where I (observer), “the victim,” and audience all went through the process of taking away negativity in their own way.