The Boss is Back 15

While the sound mix overwhelmed the screenplay in Annaatthe, the music was in itself superb. Particularly satisfying was the instrumental version of D. Imman’s Yennuyirey featuring the rising nadaswaram star from my birthplace Jaffna K.P Kumaran. I make a point of identifying Jaffna as my birthplace as one of my strong memories of my late father is of his love for this instrument which he imbibed in his Vaddukoddai youth in the 1930’s.

While my father Arumugam Deva Rajah was born in Seremban, British Malaya, I was born in Jaffna and, while he went back to live in his ancestral village in 1929 when he was seven years old, I moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when I was two in 1963. I remember blasting the Namagiri Petai Krishnan record he bought along with our very first Hi-fi system. Appa used to be highly stressed from his work and sensitive to noise. I would instinctively turn down any record I was playing when he arrived home from work, but not this one, or any of the other nadaswaram records we acquired later. My affinity with the blaring tone of this ancient Tamil instrument is a mark of my identification with my father and with my culture.

Returning to the impetus for this post, I must say that Jaffna K.P Kumaran is a fabulous instrumentalist. His playing on the film music of Yennuyirey is great and he is absolutely amazing in the traditional temple form as well.

Performance Masterclass

vexillationOr perhaps ‘Post Photo-conceptual Performance’ … a tag I have been developing to locate my practice at the junction of photography and performance. While the tag needs much refinement, I think the praxis itself seems now, after 5 years of the Koboi Project, to be reasonably developed. I had the privilege of delivering a Masterclass in Performance Art as Faculty at the International Ismaili Diamond Jubilee Arts Festival in Lisbon, which ran from the 5-9 July 2018.

In this class, I shared my preparations for two impromptu photo-performances that took place at the Alfonso De Albuquerque Monument and the Discoveries Monument in Belem on 7th and 8th July 2018, respectively. I took the workshop participants, who were amateur and professional artists from the global Ismaili diaspora through my preparations for the two street interventions. They participated in my search for a meaningful action. We began the class within the designated presentation space and finished outside absorbing the architecture Portugal Pavilion and the masterclass itself into the spectacle and symbol of the event. In the light of his exercise and the images it produced, I have clarified for myself the stations of my process and have articulated them in a set of 12 words and images.