Nikhil Chopra has been working in the medium of live art since 2002, when he was studying at Ohio State University. He returned to India in 2005 and currently lives and works in Mumbai. His concepts and works operate at the threshold of theatre, performance, live art, painting, photography, and sculpture. In largely improvised performances, he inhabits fictional characters and spaces that draw on India’s colonial history as well as his own personal history. He was invited to the KHOJ International Performance Art Residency in Delhi and Kashmir in 2007, and to the Kunstenfestivaldesarts’ Residence & Reflection project in Brussels in 2009. He has performed at the Serpentine Gallery in London (2007), the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo (2008), the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2008), the New Museum in New York (2009), and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (2010). He performed at the 53rd Venice Biennale and was part of the group show “Marina Abramovic presents...” during the Manchester International Festival 2009.
I intend to reflect on my engagement as a practicing artist with live art and performance. I want to address the question of how my work draws on both personal and collective cultural history to examine, amongst other things, issues of identity, the role of autobiography, and the politics of posing and self-portraiture. Furthermore, I would like to discuss the process of transformation as it is consciously and physically experienced and represented in my practice through performance. And finally, I will look at the form and the aesthetic of my work, its relationship to site and location, the significance of duration, and the task of making drawings.
As a performer whose practice emerges from the visual arts, every site offers a range of possibilities in terms of content material, backdrops, contexts, and audiences. The fact that these are variable and subjective in their essence to time, place, and history, lends each performance an immediacy that cannot be accessed in rehearsed acts. In other words, the work is site-specific. City lights, architecture and landscape, the weather, the commotion and chaos of contemporary metropolitan life, evidence of mental and physical stress, articulations of cultural collective histories and memories, all come together in the gestalt that creates the performative space.
Immersed in 21st-century Berlin as a resident for one year, how do my concerns as a performer collide with a city so culturally and historically self-aware? Physically re-locating to the city, living in it, and engaging with it for one year will be part of this on-going investigation.