September 14, 2012

Performative Photography: Performing Stories

I resisted the time-line change in Facebook for quite a while before Facebook itself decided to make the choice for me;) nevertheless, having once accepted it in my midst, the cover-photo function is something that I feel I can warm up to...and when I saw this image (below), I thought it would be the perfect one to display there. The confluence of the brilliant green, fuschia and blue and the striking image of Lord Vishnu in repose (sleeping seems to the theme for the past few days!) instantly appealed to me. But alas! The image size let me down and so I trotted back over here to display my visual-spoils of the day...and indeed, what a spoil it is.

"Asleep" (2010) by Nandini Valli Muthiah. 

This image forms part of the exhibition, The Visitor, which displays Lord Vishnu in a parallel universe of sorts and is the work of Indian performative photographer, Nandini Valli Muthiah. Interestingly, my first brush with Indian performative photography also occurred in a mythological context through renowned performative photographer, Pushpamala N. and her series relating to crucial women figures in the Ramayana, specifically Kaikeyi, Sita, and Surpankha. She had provided an image from that shoot for Platform magazine accompanied by a commentary on how  elaborately and meticulously she conceived and executed the shoot: it appeared to be a film-still - and yet was not. Similarly, in this article, Nandini reveals the extensive preparatory work that this exhibition necessitated along with the actual exhaustive requirements of executing the shoot itself. For me, as I have mentioned before, the back-stories are always fascinating and this extra-knowledge, so to speak, adds, rather than subtracts from, to the overall experience of viewing the work.


Hindu mythology is bursting with stories already narrated and heard and seen multiple times; yet, one can still tease out another interpretation or perspective from them and re-cast them in new stories and forms. For example, Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni narrated Mahabharata from Draupadi's perspective in The Palace of Illusions, ostensibly creating a feminist re-telling of the story. Perhaps, an inspiration for me? Time will tell:)


  1. I have been enjoying your write ups in the local magazines here in Muscat and came to check if you had a blog! Keep up the good work Priyanka!


  2. Hi Padmaja! First of all, a warm welcome to the blog and I do hope you continue to keep visiting:)

    Thank you so much indeed for your lovely words about my writing, it really means a lot to hear from readers like you. Please keep on reading!

    Have a great day:)


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