Who is Niranjan Rajah?

Zip (detail), La Folie De La Peinture. 1998 (Web Art). An early photo-performance (circa 1994) at the Parc de la Villette – a ‘gloss’ on Bernard Tschumi’s marvelous system of red enameled steel folies located systematically throughout the park.

Zainub Verjee asks,“Who is Niranjan Rajah?” She notes that this is a question she has been posed many times in the context of my successfully nominating her for the Canadian Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

She begins her answer to this question most generously and I am delight to quote her here “So let me take this opportunity to bring to you an amazing Artist, intellectual, empath and a generous person. “She continues, “A photo-conceptualist, performance artist and theorist, his work is cutting edge and he doesn’t mince his words: Be it at the Burning Man in Nevada, or in Japan or in Lisbon or in Singapore Biennale or very much in Oshawa at the Ideas Digital Forum!”

I have decided to use this header ‘Who is Niranjan Rajah’ for a series of blog posts that introduce some images and ideas from my earlier art work. Thank you Z!

https://www.facebook.com/zainub.verjee/posts/10157028887698803

https://canadacouncil.ca/press/2020/02/2020-ggarts-winners

Kaala … More or Less!

kaala look finalThe Koboi had been developing his look after the SUPERSTAR’s image in Kaala (to will be released worldwide on June 7th) for his performance at Courtyard Hiroo, Tokyo at 7 pm on 11th May 2018 I am a fan of Rajinikanth and, as such, I relish the simple pleasure of ‘being’ the Thalaiva. I am, however, also cognizant of the aesthetic and critical connotations of my play.  What is the measure of similitude – how much ‘looking like’ does it take to ‘look like’ or signify another person or persona? What is the threshold of sufficiency? Is such similitude founded on ethnic, even ethnocentric, notions of identity? What is the inner dimension of such a representation? How does one actually form a meaningful image of another? When does homage become piracy? Is this a pastiche or a parody, and if it is a parody – what is it a parody of?  What, is the difference between a popular and a fine art image in the contemporary taxonomy of the arts?

Most pertinently, Kaala may be the last of my easy and heartfelt appropriations of the SUPERSTAR’s image as, having launched into politics in Tamil Nadu, Rajinikanth has now placed himself in a different context of signification. Unlike his long-time colleague in the Movie business, and now political co-aspirant, Kamal Haasan, who has clear secular leanings, Rajinikanth’s avowed ‘spiritual politics’ seems to be taking on the pungent saffron hues of Hindutva (the Hindu Right)!.

Image: https://wallpapers.filmibeat.com/tamil/movies/kaala/wallpapers-c5-e42999-p47913.html

https://www.ndtv.com/tamil-nadu-news/at-harvard-kamal-haasan-says-hope-rajinikanths-colour-isnt-saffron-1811209