Nikita Teresa Sarkar
Artist & Facilitator • Co-founder, Falana Films | Founder, SICCA Collective | Technical Director, Tantidhatri Festival • she/her
I started my path as a fresh theatre graduate but soon realised that my interest lay in performance studies and my skill in production. A good way to blend the two was to create experiences that served as transformation stimulus tools in social set ups. My work revolves around Gender, Ecological Sustainability and Privilige Awareness. After graduating from the Drama school, I joined Whistling Woods International Film School in Mumbai as a Junior faculty in their Acting Department. I quit my job because I wanted to train myself further in two specific art forms - Baul and Kudiyattam - to study in depth the language of these performances. Inspired by the principles of spectatorship of these traditional art forms, my work attempts to create a bridge between art and therapy. I also take workshops in the local prison and work with the tools of forum theatre. I later co-founded an arts collective called The P(art)icle and we work in the field of applied arts and experience curation. I am also the founder of the SICCA (Sustainable Indigenous Centre for Collaborative Arts) in Shantiniketan that aims to be an incubator for the arts.
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Bangalore 🇮🇳 India
The work I do is driven strongly by three core principles - Politics of Identity, Eco-Sustainability and Mindfulness. The expression of my work has taken many forms and has given me the opportunity to play varied roles, ranging from a curator, performer, director, facilitator to an arts manager and activist. My projects provide me a creative platform to start conversations about uncomfortable yet necessary issues like the LGBTQIA+ rights, the problematic relation of waste and caste in India, the importance of mental health discourse, women safety concerns and other topics. The advocacy here lies in involving the audience actively as participants, rather than passively as mere spectators, to encourage an attitude of 'doing' and not just being. This has been my motive in all my work - to become a facilitator of experience driven performances that trigger discussion of socio-political concerns.
'Neer Katha' is a series of stories about any city on the banks of a river.
It is essentially the history and present of the city narrated through
stories interspersed with songs, told to an audience on a boat while
rowing along the cityscape. The idea is to re-look at the city landscape
and discover the rich history the buildings are guiding, or the diverse
narratives that the local settlements are constantly creating. The concept
is site specific and seeks to explore the history and mythograph of a city
through local stories and music. Through the course of time, a city
changes constantly but generally a river remains an impartial and true
witness to the events and as regimes are conquered and surrendered, the
river remains immovable. I work with local musicians and a writer who
re-constructs older narratives from the lens of contemporary context so
as to make history more interesting, accessible and inclusive. The focus
is always to work with local musical communities belonging to the
region to incorporate existing folklore but narrated through a
marginalised viewpoint. History always highlights the more privileged
classes, this performance attempts to sound the unheard voices.
The aim is to go beyond a performance and create a curated Immersive
experience to re-contextualize the city and explore it with a sense of
It is a digital performance conducted through Skype. It is an intimate
show where one performer and one audience member interact and play
three games, 10 minute each, for half an hour. The performance was
originally designed for a festival in Argentina where the audience
member is situated and the performer, who is a member of the visually
impaired community, is in India. The performance is structured in a way
that through the course of three games, a respect beyond challenges or
the senses can be established. In the first game, they only have audio
contact and from the second game onwards video contact is established.
The point of this encounter is to subtly hint at privileges we take for
granted and to create sensitivity through the interaction, not
sympathy. The idea is to make people realise that a challenge doesn't
define a person, there are other aspects of identity that do; to replace
possible sympathy or awkwardness with genuine respect.
Magdelena Network, Lighthouse for the Blind
The performers are all visually impaired
Paint it Red
An exhibition of tactile art work about Menstruations exhibited as part of
Sukhibhava’s Period exhibition that toured various cities of India.
Traveling Exhibition (India)
Since the exhibition was traveling around India, it managed to reach very remote areas of the country
Inspired from J.B.Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Call’, the performance is a live
interaction where the audience is invited to a dinner party where a suicide takes
place. The audience members assist the Inspector to investigate the reasons for
the suicide. It is a promenade piece that has the audience participating and often
overlapping into the role of performer in order to unravel the mystery. The piece
had 5 different rooms that the audience traversed between and depending on
which room they visited first, the narrative for each group changed. The audience
also had control over the outcome of each room as they were all interactive and
dependent on the choices that the audience groups together decided upon.
National School of Drama
New Delhi, India
Every audience member had a different experience of the performance, depending on ehich room they entered first
The performance is done in two phases- the host and the guest. The audience
members who sign up are requested to be present for both days. Food is an
integral part of community building. It is dictated by regions, cultures,
geographies and in turn dictates health, eating habits, body types. In this
performance, the hosts meet to prepare a meal together while sharing stories
related to food to get recipes and the tasks are gender neutral to encourage
community building beyond assigned gender roles. The guests, come in to eat the
food prepared but have to create games around food like food antakshari, blind
tasting etc. to access the different courses. The night is accompanied by live
musicians, the ritual of serving food individually and occasionally a bonfire.
Food is used to create a community and facilitate conversations
Hair is a marker of community, gender, class, religion and so much more. Monks
have no hair while some communities prohibit the cutting of hair. Cutting all
your hair could be a mark of widowhood or have medical implications. Studies
show that a drastic new haircut could actually bring changes in the personality of
a person. Then there is facial hair, body hair and Pubic hair with all the slang it
inspires. Through a series of interviews I am trying to understand the
significance of what is perceived either as a hidden jungle of wild tangled growth
or a sophisticated salon treated accessory we put on for the world.
Kolkata, West Bengal
I initiated an interactive performance of communal hair massaging with live music and storytelling, called ‘Champi Tales’, as part of this project.
A Pod cast that is a compilation of interviews of people who have undergone
plastic surgery to understand the various perspectives attached to one of the most
lucrative and fastest growing industries in the world – the plastic world of
Cosmetic Surgeries. Having undergone Liposuction myself, I interviewed the
perspective of surgeons as well as patients who underwent the surgery. The
conversations were a mix of increased self confidence, regret, professional
practice, secret procedures and indifference.
Although made as a personal project, the podcast got featured in ANU Community Radio.
Resistance X Azaadi
This was a campaign project done in collaboration with ColorfarmX as a
response to the revoking of Kashmir’s special status. My collective and I created
a series of installations in a public space in Delhi and did screening of films on
Kashmir and by Kashmiri film makers to start a conversation about the issue.
Taking from Agha Shahid Ali’s Country Without a Post office, we had letters
addressed to the Governor of Kashmir that were hanging as a roof.
The P(art)icle Collective
New Delhi, India
The audience could write letters of empathy to the people of Kashmir and we then posted it.
This project was done as part of the Sowing Seeds residency in Rajasthan. I
interviewed the villagers and realized that the girl:boy ratio in primary schools
was a concern and that gender was a major division in the matter. I made masks
of the children and my collaborator, a kathak dancer, took workshop about
materiality and stereotypes in which we asked all the children to use a dupatta as
anything but a dupatta. The masks looked alike and there was no way of
distinguishing the male from the female. In the final installation, we placed the
masks and separately made moustaches and ghuntas to go with them as those
were the symbols that the villagers associated most with gender. The villagers
had to place the right prop to the right face but majority couldn't and this is how
we started a discussion about gender roles and stereotypes. There was also a
shrouded figure made of matkas that were plastered with the dupatta workshop
photographs and this re-emphasized the creation of stereotypes.
The performance ended with the children facilitating and conversing with the elders and convincing them that boys and girls both deserve the same chances in life, especially when it comes to education.
Plastic Brick Construction and Upcycle Design Work
This project was specifically done to tackle the problem of waste in the
Sandakphu slope of West Bengal. I took workshop with students of
government schools and local Women self help Groups (SHG). The student
workshop was design oriented and the SHG workshops were execution
oriented. The upcycled utilities that the students designed were
implemented by the women and we sort to market the most promising
product so that a means of livelihood for the women could also be
Green Trails Fellowship by IndiaHikes
Sandakphu, West Bengal
Several innovative products were designed and we even
managed to successfully market one of them – the eco pillow. We also
constructed several structures with bottle bricks, plastic bottles and tyres.
Art for Advocacy
The Art for Advocacy Project is an Intervention to create a sample for using art and forum theatre to document tools and the processes that build agencies in minority communities. There were three objectives that we achieved through different mediums that included personal stories being expressed through poetry, puppet making, photographs, sketches and zines and using art to take back one’s narrative through storytelling:
1. Increasing the capacity of minority religious women in India to advocate for their own rights.
2. Creating awareness using creative tools around lived realities of religious minority women facing multiple forms of discrimination in India.
3. Documenting and showcasing lived realities of minority women in India’s current scenario.
SICCA, Elicit & Art for Freedom (Funded by NORAD Grant)
Complete ownership of Participants:
The participants of the online workshop took the entire responsibility and ownership of the exhibition in Delhi. We were able to confirm the venue for the exhibition of their artwork and on sharing the news, the women themselves came forth to organize the entire show. From printing the artwork and framing it to setting up the space, curating the show and also doing a walk through for the audience members on the opening day - everything was handled by the group of Afghan Refugee women in Delhi. They also invited their community for the opening and explained the project to them.
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