Oh this weekend: why do I have to go back to Singapore in 4.5 days? I love this place!
Monkeys were on the prowl at breakfast, which was very exciting. There was lots of yelling and rock throwing by the staff at Sanskriti. But the monkeys just sort of crossed their arms as if to say: what? It was hilarious.
I found myself in Old Delhi again on Saturday afternoon, hanging out with my new friend Himanshu. Old Delhi is so crazy and amazing!! We walked all over the place and he told me about all sorts of things: architecture, food, history. It was truly the best way to see this part of the city. Himanshu is a curator and festival organizer. I'm so excited to have met him! He knows all sorts of secrets to the old city and we found ourselves in the most unique and odd places, tucked away amidst the hustle and bustle. It was so much fun!
And oh my: the food . . . I tasted the most amazing paratha in the tiniest little open air, corner restaurant I've ever been in (ever in my life). I'm not kidding you: this place was probably 12 feet by 8 feet. We were squished in with about 15 other patrons, pleasantly eating our paratha. Paratha is a flatbread, and they offered about 20 different varieties. We tried cheese, green chili, cashew, and two other flavors but the names are escaping me. After walking around for a bit, we ate two different kinds of sweets. One of the sweets I explained earlier in a previous post, and the other one was sort of like funnel cake, but not. It was a squeezed out circular swirl of fried dough thoroughly soaked in some sort of honey/sugar syrup. I wanted to take a bath in that liquid goodness! It was so sickeningly sweet!
After that, we went over to Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in all of India. We strolled through the entire space, which was enormous. It seemed to me like it would be a wonderfully contemplative space, and perhaps a great place for artists to come and do some on-site sketching. The variety of people milling about were remarkable. And every one of us, shoeless on a cold day.
After the mosque, we walked back over to the bazaar. And it was at that moment that I got a wild hair. We walked down this skinny little alleyway to a tiny shop where an old man was working on a ring. Funny thing is: he also pierces noses. And for 100 rupees (about 75 cents), he pierced mine. I sat down on this stubby little chair with about 5 big guys staring at me expressionless, and this old guy with what looked to me like a fish hook in his hand. He sanitized everything and then told me to sit still as he grabbed my chin and very quickly jabbed the hook in my nose. The worst part about the whole process was hearing the hook go through my skin. Gross. I'm pretty sure the exact words that came out of my mouth next were, "Mother of God!!" He then grabbed a set of pliers and twisted the ends of the silver in my nose and sent me on my way. Nothing is crazier than watching an old guy with pliers coming at your face . . . My left eye was tearing up and finally the big guys that were watching were smiling. I did it without even screaming! And Himanshu did such a great job documenting the whole thing! Hooray for new things!
After the nose piercing, I couldn't much think about anything else. But along we went to a giant wall. It once wrapped around this entire part of the city, but now only a portion of the wall exists. At 6pm, Himanshu and I said our goodbyes and I hopped on the train back to Sanskriti. Tonight would be my last dinner with my Vicki Australia.
Sunday started off with all of us saying goodbye to Vicki and her husband. The rest of the day ended up being a studio day for everyone. We all kind of puttered around working, stopping for tea or to have lunch together. I ended up cutting out more dance figures. But--more importantly--I wrote up several proposals for future gallery shows and residencies. And I also wrote up a review of the work I have accomplished with this residency. It reads something like this . . .
"My Sanskriti Foundation residency began on December 14th and ends on January 3rd. During this short 3 week time period, I have been successful in fusing my contemporary studio art practice with the colors, textures, and movements inspired by Delhi culture. Creative research in the form of documentary photographs and videos can be found on www.cakecrush.com where I wrote about my daily experiences in my India Love . . . 3, 2, 1 series. Investigations into movement, ritual, patterning, and celebrations continue on as I begin to explore myself within these themes. In my Dance Sketch video that I created in the first week of my residency, I combined traditional Indian dance poses with contemporary Western dance poses to choreograph a quick 4-minute stop animation with still photographs (to be watched on a loop). Using the isolated movements within this animation, I have begun drawing the poses onto patterned paper that mimics the textiles and tapestries found in Sanskriti's Textile Museum. These drawings are cut out and formed into a larger kaleidoscope piece. Poses are repeated to form the design, and then the finished kaleidoscope piece is animated through photographs. During the last week of my residency, I will be taking traditional Indian dance classes. The finished choreographed piece will be edited into the animated kaleidoscope sequence to create a unique video experience, combining real and imagined space and movement. Upon my return to Singapore, I will use the fabrics and trim that I have purchased in Delhi to finish a costume piece. This costume piece will be worn in a live dance performance that is a direct response to my time here in India. Additionally, smaller sculptural works of the isolated Indian and Western dance poses will be made out of clay into a series of works that I am calling Trophies, a response to the horse sculptures and terracotta deities found all over Sanskriti and throughout India. The final work from each of these investigations will be photographed and put into a catalog along with several of my blog posts. The finished publication will be sent to Sanskriti for reference."
Tonight I will be hanging out by a campfire with my new India-based artist friends. I'm excited for the conversation as holing up in the studio all day has made me feel a bit hermit-ish. More soon, peoples!