Performance Art

Primal Colors

They are an expression of a visceral state stripped of acquired emblems of validation.  The trusted camera lens, my own body and the surroundings are ingredients of these works.  Impermanent and in a state of flux, these works catch a thought cast them into a visual vocabulary and move on to the next thought.  These works do not bear the burden of having to deliver a weighty subject matter for a high brow jury – simply a way to embrace a state, situation, place, people, politics without roots and obligations.

Familiar Fragrance, Unfamiliar Places
Familiar Fragrance Unfamiliar Places by Tania Sen
Familiar Fragrance Unfamiliar Places performance art
Listening by Tania Sen
Listening, performance art
You Can’t Go Home Again

Calling a new place “home” is the story I have tried to tell.  Cozying up a place with familiar people and things, habits and rituals is one thing, making it one’s own – quite another!  Displaced from its place of origin, a ritual loses its source or reason for coming into being.  Habits of people morph to suit convenience.  All that remains is a loss of intimacy with the past and a need to relinquish a way that served its time – so, You Can’t Go Home Again is what I’d like to call my story. The title derived from Thomas Wolfe’s novel where he writes about his character’s hometown which gains him much unpopularity among its residents because of the distorted depiction of them, so much so, that he can never return home again!

26/11 is a date less known the world over – a similar attack in Mumbai 2008.  On a windswept chilly night, in a quaint Spanish villa overlooking the Alhambra in Granada, I caught the breaking news on Spanish TV with no subtitles.  The explosion took place at Taj, one of Mumbai’s premier hotels.  Several American tourists were rescued; lives of many innocent hotel staff and bystanders were lost.  Here, I was a spectator, a concerned spectator unaffected by the calamity.  I observed how the accomplice merged into the throng of the city as the color of their skin blended right in.  There was no way to tell them apart in a democratic, primarily brown country!  Since color could not be the point of contention, it was religion.  As I said before, acceptance determines the level of allegiance despite the possibility of violation.  India, a secular democracy is experiencing massive religious polarization.  One can only hope that those on the receiving end will somehow find the strength to look past the boundaries made by fear and unite in shared grief and compassion.

Calling a new place “home” is a renewal process with love as its residual – love for all that is lost and all that is gained.   There is also the question of allegiance.  “Who do you love?”  Acceptance has much to do with allegiance.  Acceptance is often met with violation as in and its aftermath.  A few words on this…bringing up children in a pasty white suburban dry town, my husband who had his office on the 40th floor of the Trade Center was as much a target victim as anyone else in the area on that fated day.  I felt thankful when he made it back unharmed.  What caught me by surprise however was the guardedness of the mothers in the pre-schools and supermarkets who were unable to look past my brown skin.  Red, Brown and Blue is a take on that experience.  Grief unites and binds against all odds.