Nikita Teresa Sarkar
Artist & Facilitator • Partner Success Manager, Dara Network | Co-founder & Production Head, 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.
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.
Dramaturgy of Modern Resilience: Tech-o-lution
'Technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.'
From the first time a performance was ever staged, technology has been an inseparable part of it - whether in the form of lights, set or special effects. The pandemic, though, has accelerated the use and triggered a new language of performance.
What is the Dramaturgy of this new language of Performance - of Resilience through Technology?
Drama School Mumbai
Trash To Treasure
The staggering amount of plastic and other non-biodegradable waste has become one of our primary concerns today. The world is running out of landfills, and hazardous disposal of waste is causing soil poisoning, water pollution, and other long-term threats. As consumers, we tend to forget the impact of individual contributions. Big corporates and governments around the world bear a huge responsibility in environmental issues, and we should acknowledge the limitation of an individual’s capacity. However, we should, at the same time, recognise that we have the power to make positive changes in our daily life. A single person produces nearly a hundred tons of trash by the end of their lifetime
To observe our lifestyle choices and promote mindfulness in our daily lives
To question what is discardable and why
To encourage a behavioral change towards waste management
To develop an attitude of upcycling in everyday life
This Artist Exercise is derived from "Teaching Labs | Learning Paradigms Today: Workshop for Art Educators" in collaboration with the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art in 2020. Nikita Teresa Sarkar was a participant of the workshop.The AAA Learning and Participation Programme is supported by the S. H. Ho Foundation Limited and C. K. and Kay Ho Foundation
Dolphin International School
Studentslearnt not just about sustainability, but also about problem solving, design thinking and critical analysis of a situation.
Ree-Form is a project funded by the Aarambh Incubation centre of Anant National University. The concept is to produce an artefact/ asset by reusing plastic, something worth displaying and not just ‘best out of waste’. The target audience are children in the age group of 8-18, and the project attempts to create value of DIY, concern for environment and a mindset of zero waste. Thus the final prototype iss a art making kit which contain the upcycled plastic material already, in the shape of sheets, and comes with a booklet that explains the process of making art work using the sheets - puzzles, coasters, wall clock etc
Aarambh Incubator (Anant National University) & SICCA
upcycling waste to create art products
BeFantastic Together is online fellowship program which is focussed on exploring the ongoing climate emergency to craft project prototypes using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies.
As a part of the BeFantastic Together fellowship we, the Ocean Drifters Group, came together to bring forth the cause of Whale conservation, which is one of the low cost effective solutions to Climate crisis according to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Whales help to mitigate climate change by capturing and storing carbon which is the most significant climate change-causing greenhouse gas.
Imagined as a mesmerising physical exhibition accompanied by an AR adventure book, Whale Tales uses AI generated visuals to tickle the curiosity of adults and children alike and encourage its audiences to become emotionally invested in the conservation of whales.
BeFantastic Together Fellowship
AI generated imagery & content, interactive, for climate action
Badanga Art Residency
A 12 day residency to explore artistic solutions/ interventions for real life issues of the local community with the following aims:
- Creating awareness about social issues through Art
- To nurture and support local artists and art forms.
- To create collaborations between disciplines for inclusion of multiple perspectives
SICCA & Art Junction
Bandanga Village, Rajasthan
facilitated completely by the local community members (Bhil & Meena Tribe), engaging with children, collabvoratons between varied artists
Hers is Ours Moving Festival
As art and film festivals rarely reach marginalised communities, while they are the subject itself of human rights films, we are organising a travelling art & film festival and taking it to the remote areas of Uttar Pradesh & Rajasthan (India); two states where human rights violations have increased in recent years. From the 18th of October to the 18th of December 2021, we are travelling for two months by van with selected artivists (artists & activists) from all over India, with a projector, a screen and sound equipment. We are stopping in 18 cities and villages through UP, Rajasthan, and ending in Delhi. Collaborating with local organisations, we are running screenings, workshops and interactive performances around the topic of marginalisation for and with the communities.
We are stopping at a new location every 3 days & leading a minimum of four activities at each location:
Film Screenings: 3
Interactive Performances: 1
Post-screening Debates & Public Awareness Workshops: 2
The Outsider Festival carries such a name as it is brought to the stigmatised communities, the so-called ‘outsiders’, as well as it is brought by a team from outside, from many cities of India and abroad. It is essentially to remind us that one’s identity has many layers and that at a level or another we all are outsiders. This festival is a cultural avenue aiming at bringing us together around arts and politics, to celebrate our differences but also how much alike we are, and create a safe space to discuss difficult and taboo topics. Our approach is a co-learning one: we want to listen to people’s experiences, their prejudices and their inhibitions, as well as to talk about, reflect on and evolved on ours.
Hers is Ours
60 days, 18 destinations, 5 core members,12 artists
'Truth Dream' is a photo exhibition tracing the dreams and lived experiences of sexual minorities in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Conceptualised by Payana in collaboration with Maraa, the exhibition featured 12 transwomen, transmen, Kothis and Gender non conforming persons in their dream-fantasy states. These states of dreaming are inspired by childhood desires, cinema fantasies, memories of sexual transition, hope, loss, loneliness and resilience. Falana Films documented the entire process and is in the process of producing a documentary about it.
The project was conceptualised by the community members and welcomed us as collaborators. But the thought and ideas came from the 12 super humans who are also the main subjects of the film.
Tantidhatri is an All Women's International Performing Arts festival that we organise every 2 years. It brings together a generation of women who now embody life-experience in their works, and who will share these experiences generously with their audiences. It is an occasion to meet these women master practitioners, artists, intellectuals, writers and scholars from various backgrounds and lineages, as well as interact with them through workshops and talks. As the Technical Director of the Festival in 2019, I provided 10 full scholarships for children belonging to marginalized communities for the workshop of their choice to provide a chance to explore whichever art form they related most to. We also collaborated with New Light NGO, that works with the children of Sex workers, to conduct theatre workshops in their locality every weekend. This collaboration paved the way for a site specific performance where audiences were welcomes to visit the otherwise unpopular streets and view it in a new light through the eyes of the children.
Ekathara Kalari, Magdelena Network
Auroville, Bangalore, Kolkata, Shantiniketan
It's India's first all women performing arts festival. the international workshops are highly sussidised and seats are reserved for children brlonging to marginalised communities. The projects also work with a particular community on ground to develop a new art piece.
'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 belonging. I have done a proto type of this in Varanasi and Kolkata.
Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Kolkata
It can be customised to any city that has a river
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, eyeway.org, Saksham School for the Blind
The performers are members of the visually impaired community
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. The art work was tactile so that visually impaired people could also feel and experience the artwork.
Jaipur, Ranchi, Bangalore, Kolkata
It works to raise awareness about menstrual health
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
It was a promenade piece where each audience could walk away with a different narrative of the same performance, based on which order they visited the various locations.
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.
Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi
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. I have also initiated an interactive performance of communal hair massaging with live music and storytelling, called ‘Champi Tales’, as part of this project.
The project was envisioned when I was paralysed hip down due to an autoimmune disorder. It came into existence because I could not move and had to create work that would bring the audience to me and also inspire them to be the 'actors' or storytellers themselves to move the evening forward. it is with this piece that I found the cross section between a performance maker and a facilitator.
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.
New delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore
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 audience could write letters of empathy to the people of Kashmir and we then posted it.
P(art)icle Collective and Colorfarm X
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.
It worked with the community to explore gender and education
It is a project that has been conceptualized as part of the Five Million Incidents of Goethe-Institut, facilitated by Raks Media Collective. It is essentially a candle making workshop where we play with different kinds of wax to create a candle that is also a marker of the participant's individual idea of beauty. There are two modes of facilitation for - one as instructions of how to make a candle, and the other as inputs of community members belonging to marginalized notion of beauty and wax products attached to it. For example, we explore the beauty industry and the process of waxing as a facilitator input and experience the action of waxing, the effort that an individual puts in to confirm with set societal norms of beauty, and question how and why this standard is set. By the end, both the wax and the waxing strip become a part of the final candle. The audience participates in several such small actions/ triggers that lead the discussion on beauty while also creating a candle that manifests an individual expression of beauty. The candles are placed all over Max Mueller Bhavan to eventually melt and recreate a new shape, like the idea of beauty
Goethe Institut and Raqs Media Collective
New Delhi and Kolkata
The second phase of the project had to move online due to the pandemic and that significantly changed the structure of facilitation. The primary question we dealt with was - What happens to that which we do not consider 'beautiful'? The diverse group of facilitators brought forward multiple approaches to this question and we were able to look at the body, it's immunity and worth in the pandemic scenario. State actions that rendered some lives 'sacrifizable' as opposed to a few that were 'save worthy' was an important perspective presented during this discussion.
Trash to Treasure
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
established. 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.
The same module has been implemented in Pulwama (Kashmir) in 2020.
Green trails (Sandakphu), Dolphin International School (Pulwama), LIT (McLeod Ganj)
Sandakphu (West Bengal), Pulwama (Kashmir), Dharamshala (Himachal Pradesh)
The project works with the student community and the local Women Self Help groups to design and implement goods made by upcycling waste. It creates a behavioral change regarding waste in the students and also encourages solution oriented design thinking; provides alternate source of income for the women; and most importantly, reduces the amount of waste sent to the landfill.
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Nikita Teresa Sarkar on the Web