White Gold - Agat Sharma
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- Friday May 26: 16:00 - 17:15 (reserve your ticket)
- Saturday May 27: 15:30 - 16:45 (reserve your ticket)
White Gold is a restaging of a traditional folk performance from the Cotton growing regions of Central India. The performance takes place every year in the month of May just before the sowing season begins with the arrival of rain in June. For five consecutive nights the ancient tale of Ruru, Suka and Larynx is performed by the farming community in their unique theatrical style. In the story, Ruru and Suka are two children who are chosen to undertake an epic journey across the Earth to restore their lands that have been disturbed by the untimely landing of an alien Larynx.
One morning in Ruru and Suka’s town everyone wakes up speaking in a new voice that they themselves cannot understand and panic begins to take hold of the town. Ruru and Suka go to investigate the cause of this catastrophe and to restore their lands. The conniving and deceptive alien Larynx offers to be their guide on their journey through a treacherous forest. After a life changing journey they ask for the restoration of their lands and are deceived into accepting the transformed landscape as their new reality. Their only consolation is the five nights before the sowing of cotton, when their lands temporarily transform into their beloved Cosmic Cradle.
White Gold is part of a long term research project about the history of Cotton Farming in India. Since 1995, 400,000 farmer suicides have taken place in India. The Cotton Farming community is the worst affected by this wave of suicides that are a result of complex social, economic and political reasons. Cotton was proverbially called White Gold in the commodity market.
The reenactment is prefaced by an introductory lecture to contextualise the performance. As a part of the performance, collective reading sessions and a small exhibition is also being organised.
An archeological mission to the larynx
by Dr. Dhvani Shodhak
The Larynx and its relationship to the landscape in the origin myth in White Gold, the performance by Intimation Tactics resonates deeply with my research on Glottogeny (glotto- tongue or language, -geny origin).
The story of Ruru and Suka evokes the temperamental primitive Earth, its molten magma oceans as producers of the first speech bubbles. This might seem a childlike naïve deduction but should not be taken lightly. As Jack Halberstam notes: if we follow the figure of the child we can find an outside, the wild. In his graphic novel The Baby in the Boneyard, Jesse Jacobs places the child in a primitive landscape. The quintessential speech bubbles of the comic are replaced by the bubbling of the earth’s surface. Like Spinoza’s stone the self aware Hadean Earth is shown filled with anxious self-talk and generating an ever expanding ammonia fart-cloud-semiosphere.
A mere footnote in White Gold but a rather interesting proposal is to consider language as a fossil record, a memory bank rigorously sedimented for eons and sealed against introspection. Thereby proposing voicing as an act of excavating. An act hollowing out. Language acquisition becomes an archaeological expedition into the vestigial corners of our genetic code. Hadean becomes our mother tongue and we realise that we cannot unspeak Hadean anymore.
If we have to learn Haden, we would have to first realise that practising language is a material act. We need to attune our ears to hear language in the cracking of bones, batting of eyelids, the sub-vocal larynx voice or even the hiccup. What if we would study chewing gum vowelics? Or we could take a hint from the field of biosemiotics which already studies language on a cellular level from intra-molecular negotiations to intermolecular desires at one level up to silent organisational synergies. How can we learn Hadean?
When the landscape changes, so does the body and so does language. New words emerge through copulation of the old ones, unfit words drop off into etymological histories. Etymology is Phylogeny. Etymology is Geology.
Landscape, language and the body simultaneously come into existence. The mitotic division from landscape or terraforming as seen retrospectively from the body produced a moan embodying the de novo fear of separation. Language is entangled with the landscape. It exists in between and with the body, and the landscape.
But why should we be interested in speaking Hadean? Why should we foreground our awareness that practising language always already involves speaking in Hadean? Could this awareness present to us a chronopolitical potential? When we speak in Hadean, does the primitive earth speak through us? Could we access Hadean through all the other earths that have existed. If we can speak these pasts, then what about the earths to come? Could we speak those futures?
Agat Sharma moved to Amsterdam from Jaipur, India in 2020 to study at DAS Theatre. In 2022 he founded Intimidation Tactics (I_T), a post-critical theatre collective with no regard for disciplinary boundaries. Under this name he continues to work in relation to the context in India and continues to collaborate with practitioners who live in India as well as newfound collaborators in the Netherlands.
The main question for I_T is “How the Fuck did we end up here?”. It is driven by curiosity to understand the complexity of the world we live in. I_T sees theatre as a multidisciplinary place to construct experiments to model these complexities. Extensive research is transformed into a constellation of works in the form of installations, theatre, public events and publications etc. The purpose of these experiments is not to offer solutions to problems. It is to conjure reasonable doubt within established ways of knowing. Strategies used are auto-exoticisation, hyperstition evocation and appropriation through piracy. Through this I_T hopes to produce new ways of thinking and knowledge that are collective and inclusive and can hopefully rescue us from a world that is perpetually in crisis. Many projects use commonplace materials, AI tools, speculative writing and poetry to examine the complexities of globalisation.
This research is inspired by the Cotton farmers of India. Would not have been possible without the unwavering support and love from Ambika Joshi and Yugen Sharma.
Made as Intimidation Tactics with George Demetriou, Julia van der Putten and Naomi Collier Broms by Agat Sharma
In collaboration with Laura Boser, Yunus Bilir, Maria Mavridou, Sipan Sezgin Tekin; Contextual Programming: Naomi Collier Broms and Julia van der Putten; Advisor: Computational Mama and Marijn Lems; Individual tutor: Miguel Melgares and Lara Staal