My performance was conceived of my firsthand experience in the city of Dhaka. Once, while entering the city on the way from the airport, I saw a very big cluster of tricycle wala taking the road by storm. The road was fully packed with traffic and I could only see the struggle and pain in their body that they constantly endure to survive every day. I could only play the role of a third person who is looking at the whole ordeal: a silent observer, gulping down the fact that the way of life in Dhaka demands hard work in order to survive. This put together two roles in my mind: one is the position of Victim (the cycle wala) and the other one – me, the silent observer. I wanted to bring both of these roles in my performance work.

In this performance, my main intention was to draw attention to various social issues that serves as boundaries for active social justice and change. Our society keeps absorbing so-called negativities in the form of Dark, which accumulate in our system like carbon. If we don’t burn out and convert this energy into something positive, it will totally take us to the depths of its darkness. My performance was an attempt to resist this, ejecting all the negativities of our society in the form of bodily resistance.

The act was a ritualistic process for both my audience and I. I went to the audience to collect the negative words. They were asked to vent their negative emotions – the outcome of negative imprints left by society – on a piece of paper. They were also asked to write their negative emotions on the body of the artist friend who became a part of performance. He stood in the position of the Victim and I take the third position of the observer. But I am not silent this time. I do a ritualistic act of sitting on the tricycle in a very dominating position, while burning slices of bread with a kerosene lamp. I try to eat all the burnt bread without water. It was metaphorically symbolizing that we in the third position are also sensitive to negativities. Later, the paper on which the negative words were written was also burnt in incense to spread positive energy. Imprinting the dark was overall a performance in which I (observer), the victim and audiences all went through the process of making something different out of a negative energy.

Performance: Dimple B Shah

Collaborators: Neloy Hossian and audience

Photo Credit: Nasir Ahammed

Venue: Chhobir Haat, Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Date of performance: 12/11/2014

Duration of performance: 60 minutes


Emma SapersteinComment