Performers in Chennai Perch

Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over two months

Perch started working with objects after engaging with a book called “How are Things?” by French Philosopher Roger Pol Droit. They started working with objects in their daily lives, through various discussions, workshops, reiterations and performances. In 2012, they started working on one object every week, giving birth to “ProjektObjekt”. Among many other objects, the mobile phone in particular seemed to interest them.

In the last few years, mobile phones have progressed from a luxury item to an everyday utility in India. Unlike the West, the lower income groups and people doing odd jobs have emerged as the biggest users of mobile phones here. It has provided them a sense of identity, mobility and ease of access. In recent past, the mobile phone has also gained prominence in public and community life. As a communication device it has facilitated congregation of people around a cause that can only be compared to the organising power of a structured political party. This congregation of faceless public has often been able to form opinions and push agendas with dramatic results, sometimes completely circumventing mainstream media and state sponsored machinery. On the personal front it has impacted the ideas of privacy and individuality - in a strongly community based society like India; it has loosened the surveillance and grip of the community on the individual’s life. On the other side of the spectrum, mobile phones have propagated the divide between the digital haves and have-nots. Cyber-crimes have found newer avenues and new social hierarchies are being created. It has given the market and the state new ways of surveillance. It is difficult to make an all-encompassing value judgement of the effects of mobile phone on the society as a collective or an individual. It has made the already complex relationships more complicated and given rise to a range of responses and stories around it. Members of Perch found these aspects exciting enough to develop a work around it.

In their IFA funded project, tentatively titled “The Monkey and the Mobile” they are aiming to explore the impact of mobile phones on isolation, alienation, social behaviour, language and communication, physiology, perception, surveillance and virtual realities. The concerns are manifold and they wish to create a comprehensible pattern through the rehearsal process. They have already done some workshops to examine the possibilities and they think they are ready for a theatrical production. They have also been exploring rigorously with questions of form, style and content as well as extending their ideas of gestures, movement, scale and performance. They intend to use multiple mediums like film, music and text messaging to bring the final performance to life. It is designed to engage diverse audiences and will follow multiple narratives forming separate lines of enquiry.

They’ll have two major rehearsal sessions from September 28 to October 12 and October 18 to October 29, opening on October 31st in Chennai with another performance the next day.