Aliens, children and macaques

Yesterday and today we met with the other two artists – Lawei Bem Bem and Smitha Cariappa

Bem Bem is interested in the ways in which science fiction readers may consume stories of alien invasion and similar encounters with the strange and uncanny, yet may not consider their own relationship to the ‘alien’ or to alienation. Her performance will connect these ideas.

Bem Bem had lots of other ideas, too, and this makes us aware, again, that all the artists may develop this work in new ways after we have left. We look forward to checking in with them again, as projects develop, and hope to catch up with them again next year, during the final phase of this network.

Smitha is interested in visiting a peripheral area of Bengaluru, where in recent years, children have planted saplings around a lake. She wonders what those children think about it now.

Anne raised a question about work on the contested semi-rural fringes of the city, wondering whether it becomes too easy¬† to label all urbanisation destructive. Are children likely to repeat a simplistic narrative that the ideal landscape is a pastoral one? How does performance reach for a more complex sense of the paradoxes and balances of urban change? Smitha’s work takes place in an area where she feels there is a successful balance – at least for the moment.

Besides these discussions, we have also been talking to Anne Fenk, mentioned above, who has arrived to represent the MOD institute. MOD will be curating a dinner for discussion with some other Bangalore artists, and will be looking at Shiva shrines on the periphery and the performance and spaces of the Shivatratri festival on 13th February.

As these were a lot of meetings, the picture is not of a meeting, or at least not a human one. There are many bonnet macaques¬†on campus. Anindya was with us when we saw a whole troupe of them yesterday, pointed out their variations in status and told us a little about their social order. Each one has its own face, recognisable as an individual. Each one has its particular ‘bonnet’, some lopsided, some tufty, some torn. These peripheral beings paused to be fed by the security guard, before toddling through the archway of the local creche.