Abhishek Thapar brings his transcontinental journey to OzAsia Festival 2019
Abhishek Thapar is a theatre maker, performer, puppeteer and artist currently based in Amsterdam.
As a person of Indian background who has lived in around 13 different cities around the world, Abhishek often explores the notion of what it is like to be an expat in a new country, while trying to understand the concept of ‘home’.
In 2019, Abhishek brings two shows to OzAsia Festival.
The first, ‘Surpassing the Beeline‘, is a theatrical-culinary experience curated especially for the Adelaide festival that brings together three expatriates from Amsterdam and three living in Adelaide in an exploration of intentional immigration.
His second show, ‘My Home at the Intersection‘, tells a true tale of three generations that seamlessly interweave family heritage with Punjab’s contradictory social history since the 1980s.
Check out Abhishek’s Q&A with CulturalPulse and find out when to catch his shows at OzAsia Festival 2019 by reading below!
You have moved quite a lot in your life, how do you stay connected to your childhood home?
One can derive many ways to stay connected, for me it’s my art. I made My Home at the Intersection just because I wanted to map: Who am I? Why do I do what I do? And more specifically it is all contained in a jar, a jar of lemon pickle that dates back 27 years. It’s the last memory of my childhood home. I share this with the audience before the start of the performance and take them back with me to where I was born. In that way it becomes a collective engagement or a search into the past together with the audience.
How do you incorporate your cultural background into your work?
I work with materials, stories, landscapes, textures and colours which are very specific to my life experiences but also histories, and with every project the challenge is how to revisit them in here and now, in a space where I am culturally uprooted.
Having lived in around 13 cities, how do you incorporate these influences into your work today?
Moving around creates openness, generates possibility to not conform to any particular identity or any fixed framework of how to understand or relate to the world. As I move, I experience people, spaces and time differently, and it grows and unfolds. I pin down these experiences, either through keeping a diary or a voice document or photographs or film it. These documents serve a purpose of reflection, and from that space I find inspiration for my next projects. These documents and thoughts are then brought to the studio for experimentation, and it is in the studio that initial steps are taken to find a form and content to make an artwork.
Moving around creates openness, generates possibility to not conform to any particular identity or any fixed framework of how to understand or relate to the world.
What do you think are the benefits of having lived in so many countries? In contrast, how do you feel it has negatively impacted you?
Being able to move to another country is always a fortune cookie for me. As an Indian passport holder, it makes it extremely difficult to cross borders. It makes me reflect on how biased our visa systems are globally, and this comes with a lot of emotional churning within. Having said that, moving allows me to redefine myself. It allows to me to build new collaborations, work with diverse people and learn from them. It helps me to get out of comfort zone and redefine my work and my expand my vision as an artist.
What message are you trying to send through your work?
My work dives into the complexity of narratives, rupturing pre-conceived notions of identity politics, historical narratives, religious-political ideologies, migrational discourse and environmental issues. As a performance maker, I engage my audience into a critical discourse of postcolonial epistemologies focusing on current issues of the globalised world. Through my work, I seek to create a state of ‘uncertainty’ where newer thoughts or other perspectives can emerge, thus enabling the audience to re-engage with the world through a different lens. I believe my work responds to social and political issues by uncovering layers of problems rooted more and more in participatory formats of late. In my work, deconstruction an re-construction are important tools used to approach a real situation or scenario together with the audience.
Through my work, I seek to create a state of ‘uncertainty’ where newer thoughts or other perspectives can emerge, thus enabling the audience to re-engage with the world through a different lens.
What has influenced you the most throughout your life?
What can the audience expect from your work at the OzAsia Festival?
I am bringing two different works at OzAsia Festival – My Home at the Intersection and Surpassing the Beeline. My Home at the Intersection is a story spanning three generations of my family set against the history of Punjab and deals with a very specific historical/political conflict in the mid 1980s. I invite the audience into the landscape of Punjab using storytelling, film and miniature models but also taste and tactility. Surpassing the Beeline is a site-specific performance which features six expats (three from Amsterdam and three from Adelaide) and deals with narratives of intentional migration using food and storytelling. Both works deal with autobiographical narratives but have very different formats.
Surpassing the Beeline
WHEN: October 29-31, 2019
WHERE: Banquet Room, Adelaide Festival Centre
COST: From $48
MORE INFO HERE
My Home at the Intersection
WHEN: November 2-3, 2019
WHERE: Rehearsal Room, Adelaide Festival Centre
COST: From $30
MORE INFO HERE