Performance Art – Nikhil Chopra

At the Gallery Chaterjee and Lal we were shown the works of artist Nikhil Chopra. Chopra is a performance artist, breaking the barrier between what is performance art and theatre. His work involves taking on the role of a persona and allowing the audience to watch and be part of the work.
His first performance in Bombay, he took on the character of Yog Raj Chitrakar, (fictional character based on Chopra’s grandfather). Through the course of the 72 hour performance, he made a drawing of the panoramic view seen from the rooftop of Kamal Mansion in Colaba, which is the same building of the gallery Chatterjee and Lal.
Through the performance he did not move out of the space, and developed and changed the character of this space over time. While Chopra went through several transformations during the performance, It was his interaction with the space also that was very important. He had constant transitions in his character that he brought out through his change of costume and body language. The space was also changed with every transformation the character went through.
The space Chopra inhabited for 72 hours changed in its character bringing out new settings of spaces he had to inhabit. The other crucial element of the change taking place through the performance was the coming and going of the viewers. The audience played a role in the placement of where things could be. Its also not just Chopra that is inhabiting the space, but also the viewers and their interpretation and reaction to the space. Spaces had no boundaries. The audience was even permitted to go and watch him when he went to the toilet or any other private matter. This is a key aspect in where the audience knows it boundaries.
Through this 72 hour performance I had been for a short while. Through this time period, he was constantly acting. Whether he was working on the paranoia view of the wall, there was a very perforative way in which he worked. This was with a touch of drama. 
There was another moment in which he was just sitting across the wall. This was in a very maintained pose without looking around at those coming and going.
Through the little that I saw of the performance I really took a lot back with me from this. On watching it in a fast motion seven years later at the gallery, I really saw the quick transformations he and the space took on.


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