Red in Tooth & Claw
The title “Red in Tooth and Claw” quotes an infamous line from Tennyson’s poem "In Memoriam". It evokes the ultimate need of an animal, a savage call, devoid of moral or cultural obligations other than survival instincts. Humans of course, cannot be called savages, at least not all of them. All societies have created extreme hierarchical segregation where the less fortunate ones are forced on the margins stripped by their human dignity. Post-independence India is still strongly clutched in the claws of Untouchability as it ever was. There are extreme forms of divisions in society that becomes the matter of life and death, but some are more subtly performed segregation such as those illustrated in domestic architectural design.
I received a small number of visitors at my studio. I prepared a vegetarian meal and used beetroot as the main substance in each dishes. The red coloration misguided the appearance of otherwise familiar dishes. I segregated a few members of the audience from the rest of the group. I directed these selected few members towards an inbuilt stone storage shelf situated high on one of the walls of the room, while the rest of the audience remained on the floor. The selected members of the audience were offered beetroot water to wash their hands with. I sat with five other members of the audience on the shelf and refrained my self from any further active intervention throughout the performance.
For the next hour, the performance was left entirely up to the audience. The role of the performer and the viewer was transformed, altered. The food remained untouched for a long time.