Unbound- a performance exploration
Direction and solo performance: Parnab Mukherjee
Dedicated to and inspired from Mahatma Gandhi’s seminal book Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule)
Co-ordinator: Reza Karfar
1001 EVENINGS: The 8th evening
Curated by Ali Ettehad
Friday, 12 July 2013, 9:00 pm
Marcov café, Qasr museum of Tehran, Motahari st.
Unbound- a performance exploration Dedicated to and inspired from Mahatma Gandhi’s seminal book Hind Swaraj (Indian Home Rule) Direction and solo performance: Parnab Mukherjee Production controller: Reza Karfar PERFORMANCE NOTE: Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also the internal violence of the spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you just refuse to hate him: Martin Luther King, Jr. Jottings on Hind Swaraj and locating a few fault-lines: It is chilling but true. More than 100 years later after it’s publication Hind Swaraj is dangerously relevant. As relevant as ever. More real than reality television. Especially at a time when misplaced ambitions and even more misplaced notions development are so rampant that we have lost our rights-based core. Gandhiji argues that did we ever have one? When a man rises from sleep, he twists his limbs and is restless. Similarly, although the Partition has caused an awakening, the comatose condition has not yet disappeared. We are still twisting our limbs and are still restless, and just as the state between sleep and awakening is considered to be necessary, so is the present unrest in India be considered a necessary and therefore, a proper state. The knowledge that there is unrest will, it is highly probable, enable us to outgrow it. Rising from sleep, we do not continue in the comatose condition, but according to our abilities, we are soon restored to our senses…… Gandhiji in Hind Swaraj When Hind Swaraj was first published many raised eyebrows. Many believed that here was a pamphlet of complete anarchy. A century later, Hind Swaraj still answers many questions especially the disturbing one: Who or what makes a role model? For that matter can the concept of State ever be a role model? Role model in a is never the figurehead it is always an idea. And what matters is not who did….. it is who changed what? It can be a change in the mindset. It can be a change in the way of national, local or even neighbourhood thinking. It can be bringing/introducing/re-introducing changes that make a tangible difference. Yes, the idea is defined by age but not merely the biological age. As Gandhiji says in Hind Swaraj that it is ultimately the soul force, which is the core. This force has to be defined by the newness of thinking, the ability to dare and to look the odds into the eye. A change-maker can be a theatre director, sportsman, a peacenik, a labourer, a human rights activist, a sportsman, a painter, a lawyer, a bunch of activists or even a group or collective that gives birth to an idea who’s time has come or which is far ahead of times. But the change maker has to be in active change and not some passive theoretical change that is chained by academic pedagogy. We have not taken the idea of the body in our syllabus. We have to understand whether you are dealing with rape perpetrated inside a moving bus or the stillness of a room. The discourse concerning the body must change. Otherwise, the haemorrhage will continue. Because driving an invisible carriage and whipping with an invisible leash cannot lead to any concrete visible change. None of it. Not even in short spurts or sporadic bursts of temporary rage which dissolves into going nowhere posturing. Well, if you don’t bring in the idea of the body, then the idea will be imported from a diverse range of sources that include video games to downloaded videos to patriarchy to the brutal machismo of the media. Between the text and the context, between the page and the stage, between the avowed intention and the carefully crafted out co-incidences, we are indeed stuck in a cesspool. Or what I prefer calling designer muck. Inside the designer muck, the nature of compromise invariably spawns whisper campaigns, rumour-mongering and a judgmental posture. One tends to conclude even before the conclusion. One tends to inform even before the nature of information takes shape. One tends to exclude and pre-judge every step and as a result conclude hastily.
Compromise is not a history of spaces that we occupy. It is a forcible occupation of a liberal space. It is a pincer attack on two words: dignity and dialogue. Leading to a loss. Maybe the loss of intimacy, affection, affliction, disease, malignant cells or even a sense of shared solidarity. Maybe the loss of name, place, animal, things, sensations, smell, syntax, soundscapes. The recent incidents reveal the violence of normal times. The violence that has become so much of a ritual that its long term ramifications are yet to be mapped. And more we postpone the mapping, the fallout will be a quantum increase of organised violence both in the realm of ideas and in the sheer number of exiles that we would create, breed and discard. Idea is not something you paste on the walls. You do that for heroes or superstars, the landscape of ideas are a little different. So, it is a tragedy that a Bob Marley ends up more being in the T-shirt rather in the protestscape. Any activist wants activism to be cool but with a philosophical core. We mixed up this manufactured aura coolness as being fashionably trendy. The cultural voyeurs that turned the Swaraj into a marketable commodity than as a light in such noxious times. As Gandhiji so rightly puts it in Hind Swaraj: Swaraj is when we learn to rule ourselves. It is therefore, in the palm of our hands. Do not consider this Swaraj to be just a dream. There is no idea of sitting still. The Swaraj which I wish to picture is that, after we have once realized it, we will endeavour to the end of our life-time to persuade others to act likewise. This Swaraj needs to be experienced, by each one of himself. One drowning man will never save another. Slave ourselves, it might be mere pretension to think, of saving others. Now as you have seen it is not necessary for us to have as our goal the expulsion of the English. If the English become Indianized, we can accommodate them. If they remain in India along with their civilization we have no room for them. It lies with us to bring such state of changes. Passive resistance is the method of securing rights through personal suffering. It is, the opposite of resistance by arms. If I refuse to do a thing is repugnant to my conscience, I use soul-force. For instance, the government of the day has passed a law which is applicable to me. I do not like it. If I use violence to force the government to repel the law, I am employing what is termed as body-force. I don’t obey the law and accept the penalty for the breech, I use soul-force. It is the sacrifice of self. Our immediate protestscape is a series of images. Ranging from Manipur to East Timor. From struggles in Aceh to images of Iraq. From the starkness of Bhopal to lost hope in Golan Heights. The body is used as a tool to look at the images that haunt us. And the praxis, the dialectic that guides us through this choppy images is Gandhiji’s lines in Hind Swaraj. And of course the spate of ongoing recent violence on women.. There’s this edge. Perched precariously on the cliff you realise that if you tilt a little more you die. If you don’t fall you are still convinced still of not living with great relish. Standing in a no man’s land is a strange feeling. On one hand you have your own country and on the other hand you have the populist notion of the other country always described as other. So, i have to prove myself to be an Algerian in Paris, an Eritrean in Ethiopia, Gabonese in Bordeaux, Ivory Coast refugee in Marseilles, an Aceh in Java, memories of the East Turkestan which the Chinese took away from me in 1949, a displaced Tamil in Jaffna, a Tibetan in Dharamshala, a Chakma in Chittagong Hill tracts We have to realise that world is not a bunch of celebrities doing some inane populist nonsense and pretending that they are the world. They can be “a” world and not “our” world. Our world is individual, a small core and the collective. The individual contain multitudes, the core contains some specific aspirations and the collective nurses that individual flame of dissent. So ideas are humane-yet-out-of-the-box, dense, multi-directional, multi-faceted and believes in a collage of slogans that enhances humanity and not merely showcases individual aspiration. Aspirations that percolate and churn the cesspool. Into that realm where braveness become a mindset and not bravado and there is an underlying humanism that constantly runs through the sub-text….. lies the performance.