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This is the Male Washroom
Talin Subbaraya

PERFORMATIVE PIECE
60 MINS | KANNADA, ENGLISH | 2024

Trailer. Poster. Performance and production stills.

Synopsis

This is the Male Washroom is a dance theatre exploration of gender, performance, masculinity and queerness through the lens of the male washroom. The piece binds the varied gendered personal experiences of the performer in the male washroom with collective experiences of gender and its performance. 

How much of our identity as people is governed by performance?

What relationship could Bharatanatyam as a form share with masculinity? Does it preserve it, nourish it, break it, play with it?

 

As grey as we acknowledge we are, what is this fascination for the ideal, for the absolute white, especially in the political reality that we live in today?

What are these standards of masculinity and gender that one is drawn towards, again and again, in varied contexts?

What could vulnerable male friendships seem like? 

Do spaces like the Male Washroom hold different realities for different people? What could tickle the washroom into being kinder? 

Could friendships be spaces of collective solidarity, strength and love apart from genuine affection for each other? 

‘This is the Male Washroom’ is an enquiry into these questions and more.

Artist's Statement

This is the Male Washroom has its roots in my own experience of the male washroom at different points of time: as a child in school, as a queer individual at malls, bus stops and public spaces, as a male dancer in auditoriums. These washrooms felt different, yet there was the constant thread of gender that one grappled with in these spaces. This piece was born out of introspections of these negotiations that happen between gender and the male washroom. The piece isn’t merely an expression of my experience in these washrooms. It draws from my lived experience but chooses to see reflections of similar relationships and negotiations between gender, performance and spaces across people. It is importantly an imagination of what can change these spaces and what comfort and joy could feel like if they governed these places constantly. This piece was born out of anger, fear, powerlessness, nervousness, the need for assertion and an innate sense of challenge that I felt and sometimes still feel as someone queer: as someone who does not necessarily fit into conventional notions of masculinity, in the male washroom, but goes on to speculate what safety, joy and comfort could mean in these very spaces and what it could feel like to access and claim the same, collectively. 

 

About the artists

TALIN SUBBARAYA

 

Talin Subbaraya is an artist based in Bangalore. His artistic practice is based in movement, writing and theatre. His current practice of the arts is an attempt to find ways to tell stories from his personal lens, thus leading to experiments with the forms he practices. He is currently learning Bharatanatyam and exploring performance making with Priyanka Chandrasekhar at Nirali, a dance school and collective based in Bangalore. He was a part of G5A Foundation and Soho Theatre's collaborative script writing program, "Writer's Lab Mumbai" in 2021. During the same year, he was also a resident artist at Smarter Digital Realities, a residency curated by Padmini Ray Murray and produced by Sandbox Collective and Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore that led to the making of “An Alarippu”, a dance film created in collaboration with Priyanka Chandrasekhar and Armaan Mishra, that brought together his experiences of homosexuality across public spaces in Bangalore, and the alarippu, a piece from the Bharatanatyam repertoire. He was a part of the Unrehearsed Artist (Virtual) Residency curated by Nava Dance Theatre, San Francisco in 2022. He was also one of the recipients of the reFrame Genderealities Fellowship and the Prince Claus Seed Awards in 2023.

PRIYANKA CHANDRASHEKHAR

Priyanka is a lawyer by education and a movement artist and theatre practitioner based in Bangalore. She has trained in Bharathanatyam for over 25 years and Kathak for about 10 years. Priyanka has performed extensively in both solo and group formats in India and abroad along with popular dance companies. Priyanka is the founder and director of ‘The Nirali Collective’. Presently, Priyanka is reimagining classical dance pedagogy through training, performance building, research, choreography, and the creation of new work. She is also a performer, curator, choreographer and facilitator.

With a keen interest in the politics of the form and its history, Priyanka believes in creating work that is accessible, critical, and contemporary. Her work is process-focused, exploring interdisciplinary approaches, methods, and collaborations that provide agency for her co-creators and audiences. With Nirali, Priyanka aims to create a non-hierarchical safe space to converse, express, critique and question, building a new culture in the field that nurtures reflection, intention, experimentation and creative exploration, along with rigour and discipline inherent in our styles and traditions. She hopes to create a new body of work in Bharathanatyam, expanding the boundaries of the form to include personal stories and political realities of our time.

ARVIND SRIDHAR

Arvind is a self-taught photographer and filmmaker based in Bangalore, India. As an independent freelance artist, he has worked with niche and creative businesses to tell their brand story with his pictures and films in a wide range of industries, including, product, fashion, food, lifestyle and interiors with brands Flipkart, Dori, Sui, Gonative, Kaiyare, The Purple Turtle, Humble Bean Coffee, Zivame. His core interest lies in documentary photographs and films and he has many projects to his credit.

Arvind is also founder of fly on the wall weddings, and the creative head of the Nirali Collective. Over the years he has developed an expertise in performance art photography and film and has worked closely with arts consultancy companies and dancers like SNS Arts Consultancy and Sooraj Subramaniam (Belgium). Arvind is passionate about interdisciplinary work and collaborations. He is an all-rounder and has great enthusiasm for music. He also creates and arranges music for TNC. Given Arvind’s training, experience in photography, films and visual arts, he also designs and executes lights for dance and theatre performances. 

MRINALINI REDDY

Mrinalini Reddy is a biotechnologist, founder of a sustainable fashion brand, a dedicated Bharatnatyam dancer, and a budding theatre artist. She's an individual whose diverse interests span in science, sustainability and art. Parallel to her scientific pursuits, Mrinalini has a deep passion for the arts, particularly in the realm of Bharatnatyam which she is currently exploring and practicing, under the tutelage of Priyanka Chandrasekhar at Nirali, a Bangalore-based arts collective. She was also part of a dramatized play reading of Dea Loher's "Innocence," a thought-provoking piece that delves into themes of guilt, responsibility, and the human condition. This production, directed by Priyanka Chandrasekhar, was brought to life by the collaborative efforts of Sandbox Collective and the Goethe-Institute/Max Mueller Bhavan in Bangalore. Her commitment to art reflects her broader interest in integrating physical expression with emotional and political expression, in the near future. Beyond her specific engagements in biotechnology and art, Mrinalini embodies a philosophy of continuous learning and unlearning. This mindset drives her to constantly seek new experiences, challenge existing paradigms, and expand her horizons. Her journey reflects a harmonious blend of scientific inquiry and artistic exploration, illustrating the potential for interdisciplinary enrichment.

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