Drum Solo

Chatterjee & Lal, Mumbai










March 2010
Duration 5 hours every day for 5 days
Costumes: Loise Braganza
Photography: Isha Anand
Production Assistance: Starlyn D’Souza, Aarti Sunder and Chirag Dewan

The performance Drum Solo, undertaken by Nikhil at Chatterjee & Lal between March 15 – 19, 2010, marked a major and, perhaps, significant shift in character from the well known avatar of Yog Raj Chitrakar.
Nikhil dispensed with the task of drawing, the engine for many of the performances that he has produced over the last three years. Instead he sat behind a drum kit set with a new task, that of mastering the instrument. As Nikhil acknowledges, it is this ‘Chartering of the unknown’ that unites characters seemingly so diverse. The still nameless character played the drums, with increasing proficiency, for five hours over a period of five days. Loosely situating the new character in the glam rock era of the late 1970s, during this time Nikhil would only interrupt playing to drink beer and smoke cigarettes.
At first hesitant, introverted and masked in a black body suit obscuring even his head, the character evolved into a fantastical creature, kitted out in gold, silver and black spandex outfits, shimmering in the spotlights of the otherwise blackened exhibition space. The outfits revealed every contour of Nikhil’s body, and the feeling of nakedness was an aspect he was conscious of as well as the snake-like connotations of the costumes that were shed and discarded around the drum kit after their use.

The metamorphosis culminated in the emergence, on the last day, of a shamanist elaboration of the homage to glam that had been witnessed in the days before. At this point it became clear that the performance was setting out pointers towards ideas of ritual and the part played in it by sound and, in particular, rhythm.
Throughout the week Nikhil was forcing the audience to consider, in literal and metaphoric terms, the rhythm and tempo of a live art piece. Moreover, by ‘performing the performer’, a term Nikhil uses freely with respect to this new avatar, an elaborate critique was set up on a performance artist’s relationship both with his audience as also with the characters he inhabits.
Mortimer Chatterjee
Drum Solo

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