“Our social identity is a construct that is built quietly over our growing years defining our gender, bodies, clothing, hairstyle, behaviour and disposition - defined by unsaid norms that we live by or are compelled to. They go unchallenged. Society is not kind to the rebels. They become the outcast, the irregular, the mutinous, the outsider challanging the established norms.”
Swarup designed a series of bamboo armours/cages, originally for a scenography project - executed by the bamboo craftpersons in Kolkata, who construct Puja Pandals and large structural sculptures. The artisans always add a skin of cloth or paper to the structure, but Swarup wanted to expose the inner architecture to reinforce the idea of construction. It later occurred to the artist that these armours could act as costumes in tandem with the human body. ‘Armour of Weaknesses’ shows bodies forcing themselves painfully in and out of expertly crafted bamboo structures almost like slipping in and out of real and assumed realities and identities.
The bodies are androgynous and never sexually obvious; they are various and non-conformist to type, shape and size. Delicately poised on high heels, the dancing body contorts to accommodate various parts of his/her body. The artist-photographer is relentless and rapidly captures this struggle on camera. As the identities of the performers are concealed through embalming and face concealment, different realities other than their everyday self emerge!
Works: Courtesy of Akar Prakar
Craft Partner: Vinod Pakray (Bamboo Armours)