The Group Dramatic

Apr 2017
RISD Design Studio 4
Timeline: 1 Week

On 27th February 2017, Indian engineers Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani became victims of a racially motivated shooting by Adam Purinton at a bar in Olathe, Kansas. This project is a collaboration with my friend Sudiksha Krishnan in an effort to convey our sympathy and address the deepening severity of ethnic and cultural divisions under Trump's presidency. The final result is an installation involving video, audio, and a three-part publication nested in a series of red envelopes.

I — Natya

The Group Dramatic

The largest red envelope contains the first publication, titled "Natya", referring to the group dance component of Bharatanatyam that is usually performed together by a team. This publication speaks of the sensationalism of media coverage around the event, including 3 key articles: a factual report, an article on the "American" heroism of the white savior Ian Grillot, and an essay on being Indian in Trump's America. It also contains a bio-card for each victim respectively, providing a brief context of their immigrant identities.

II — Nritya

The Solo Expressive

The second envelope, nested within the first, is slightly smaller and of a less saturated shade of red. This component is the "solo expressive", a slower, more expressive stage of Bharatanatyam where a singular dancer communicates silent words and feelings through gestures and motion; we use this to draw a connection to the victims' families, their thoughts and emotional reactions to the tragic incident. This part addresses the immigrant family—their decisions, fears, and pains.

III — Nritta

The Pure Dance

The third publication is "Nritta" (Pure Dance), stowed away in the smallest, darkest envelope, representing the individual and bearing the most gravity. Pure dance is the most technical phase of Bharatanatyam, placing an emphasis on rhythm and pure movement; the solo dancer tells no story and engages only the senses, approaching the zenith of beauty and abstraction. In this last publication, we communicated the plight of the individual immigrant almost entirely through a sequence of Hastas, ending with the Shivalinga, which symbolizes the dissolution of misery, unification of the spirit, and moving onwards.