2020: Walk For The Future
2019. Protest performance parade for public spaces. Durational.
A durational public performance within a large-scale protest parade called '2020: Walk For The Future', organised by the 2020 Group for the Mumbai chapter of a pan-India campaign called ‘Artists Unite.’ In the run-up to the 2019 Indian general election, this campaign featured artist and activist-led events denouncing India’s right-wing, Hindu nationalist government. The six-hour-long and 2000-person strong parade in Mumbai sought to mobilise a generally politically apathetic city to take art onto the streets, and make a statement against the rise of fascist, hate politics. Artists of different backgrounds led "tukdees" or segments (a traditional structure for Indian parades), each of which had a distinct artistic identity.
Shapeshift’s segment took inspiration from the public performances of Sharon Hayes, and explored the tenuous boundaries between private and public utterances. Participants read tender pieces of writing into a loudspeaker (a fixture in Indian protests), rendering personal language into material for public protest. From private letters sent across borders to poems of desire and longing by poets incarcerated under totalitarian regimes, each rendition sought to reclaim India’s politically constricted public sphere by inscribing it with intimacies, en-masse. Additionally, as a response to the alarming rise of religiously motivated mob lynchings in the country, a section of the performance invited participants to shout out the names of each documented lynching victim, along with the place and date of their death. This simple and rage-filled act of remembrance sought to cut through anonymous numbers, and question how “lynching” has become common parlance in contemporary India.
[More information on the parade and 2020 Group here].