January 14th and March 10th, 2013 approximately 70-100 million people
are expected to attend the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India. Hindu
pilgrims from all over the world will attend to bathe at the
convergence of three sacred rivers: the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the
Saraswati. This gathering is one of the largest human gatherings on
the planet. I am currently developing a new project around this
context called Source. The project uses the concepts of
‘source’ as an investigative lens into Indian culture, the Kumbh
Mela, and my process of travel and art making. Since the Mela stems from a religious nature, focus will be placed on notions of the
sacred and the secular.
The idea of ‘source’ also extends to the relationship between Sadhu ascetic practices and live-art (performance art) practices. There are many correlations between the two communities: how they travel, their separation from normative social society, and the rites they enact through their art and religion. The mind-body investigation through physical acts, which illustrate the spiritual power of the sadhus, is also a critical investigation for artists who use their bodies and actions as their medium. I will be exploring the parallels between these two communities through my process of artistic research and practice.
I will start at the Kumbh Mela event itself and reside on site for ten days. I will implement my first action on the most populated bathing date of the festival, February 10th. After attending the festival I will travel by bus, car, and foot along the route of the Ganges from the site of the Mela towards its glacial source in the Himalayas. Throughout this six-week period I will engage in the culture, photograph, write, and create live actions that respond to both of the discrete sites and the route traveled. I will explore the opportunities for conceptual and photographic juxtapositions presented by the contrast of the two locations.
The following blog is presented to illustrate my working process and to provide information about the context of the festival and Indian culture at large. Posts will be added regularly throughout the next several weeks!