• 24 January 2020
  • 1:00 – 2:00 pm
  • Paul Mellon Centre

While performance art has often been linked to politics of representation, this talk explores performance through the lens of personal positionings vis-a-vis 'transnationalism'. It defines performance art as action or inter-action in the context of the visual arts, and examines the ways it was mobilised in Rasheed Araeen's Canal Events (1968–72) staged in London, Paris and Karachi; Prafulla Mohanti's Painting-Performances (1960s–90s) developed in Leeds, London and Orissa; and Sutapa Biswas's Kali (1984) enacted during her undergraduate degree at Leeds University.

Taking up the frameworks of ‘itinerancy’ (Adadol-Ingawanij, 2018) and ‘disobedience’ (Mignolo, 2009), this talk discusses the central role of uncomfortable or risky encounters and mobility in these works, and their emphasis on independent thought and personal subjectivity which went beyond national narratives and over-arching discourses on postcolonialism or ‘black art’. In doing so, it proposes that Araeen, Mohanti and Biswas’s performances can be situated alongside works by artists such as David Medalla and Mona Hatoum, in whose practices performance presented expanded possibilities for negotiating ‘transnationalism’ as both perspective and artistic method in Britain between the 1960s and 1980s. 

About the speaker

  • Headshot of Eva Bentcheva

    Eva Bentcheva is an art historian and curator with a focus on transnational performance and conceptual art. She completed her PhD titled 'The Cultural Politics in British South Asian Performance Art, 1960s to the Present' at SOAS, University in London, where she was also a Senior Teaching Fellow on 'Diaspora Contexts and Visual Culture' in the Department of Art and Archaeology. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre, building upon her doctoral research for a monograph on transnationalism and performance art in Britain since the 1960s. In 2018–19, she was the Goethe-Institut Postdoctoral Fellow at Haus der Kunst in Munich where she co-curated the exhibition Archives in Residence: Southeast Asia Performance Collection with Annie Jael Kwan and Damian Lentini, and organised the symposium Pathways of Performativity in Contemporary Southeast Asian Art. Her previous appointments have included Visiting Research Fellow and Adjunct Researcher for the Tate Research Centre: Asia, where she developed research on works of David Medalla, and performance and conceptual art in Southeast Asia since the 1960s.