“A body appears in a performance event: a body apparently as a reservoir for signs/significations, encoded with known valances of identity, a body that could yield to the observing gaze, unbeguiled meanings, and be readily perceived as a social object/product. Yet, this same body could also threaten to overthrow all ‘received’ expectations with the force of its intrinsic, potential agency, let loose through acts and gestures in a space and time coordinate of its own and one waits in trepidation for what follows. Because, now, art appropriates this very body for its peculiar end and art is performing itself.”
And thus was the beginning of Ali Asgar’s performative presentation that took place at the IMRC Center last week. “Shame, Gender and Erotica: My Journey as an Artist” was Ali’s first presentation as the Intermedia MFA program’s 2016-17 Artist in Residence.
The basic intention of this performative presentation was breaking the regular form of the artist talk/presentation, where the artist describes their work and the audience reacts only at the end. The effort was to give the audience an experiential journey through video, sound and the presenting artist themselves as a part of the presentation rather than isolating them from it.
Ali states, “As a performance artist occupying space and my audience’s mind, experimenting with the energy of a space has always been one of my areas of interest. Through this claimed performative presentation there was an effort to blur the boundaries between artist, artwork and the performativity of the space. There were multiple happenings such as voice narration, video projection, and movement of my body so that my audience could choose which one they want to concentrate at a time rather than offering them a set idea or a pre-constructed presentation of slides.”
Ali is an artist from Bangladesh whose work explores queer politics, gender and identity, specifically through the conservative social and political lens of Bangladesh.
Ali informs us that
Bangladesh, a South Asian Muslim majority country, is one of the 76 countries, which still has a sodomy law criminalizing same-sex activities. Though the law has never been implemented, it is reported to be widely used by law enforcers to harass and blackmail LGBT individuals. In the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 2013, the Bangladesh government acknowledged the existence of the LGBT community in the country but rejected the recommendation to decriminalize same-sex activities.
Ali will be in residence through the end of the academic year. Stay tuned for future presentations, workshops and studio visits. Ali may be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Jim Winters.