THE SMELL OF DEATH
DIMPLE B SHAH
“The wise man is not surprised by death he is always ready to leave.”
“This melancholic state is so powerful that, according to scientists and doctors, it can attract demons to the body, even to such an extent that one can get into mental confusion or get visions.”
This performance was based on the psychological state of mind following the shocking news of the sudden death of a friend. Death remained an unsolved mystery as I tried to negotiate and understand it. Understanding death has various undertones. Sudden death creates a dark melancholy feeling, where there is no hope and light, just mere helplessness. The mind is overpowered with negative thoughts of fear, deceit, and lack of life itself. It is a point of wedged tension which cannot be swallowed or thrown out. It is a question of faith in life.
My performance was an impression of my reaction to death, and an accumulation of various thoughts around sudden death. It questioned the contexts of “how,” “when,” and “why” which surround a death. It was very difficult to perform and needed a lot of courage to express these dark thoughts and emotions, transferring them to the audience. It was an intense ritualistic act to help me to emerge from this difficult state of mind.
The aim was to perform an expression of the mental position between life and death. Metaphorically, I worked with prana (meaning both “life” and “death”), using breathing techniques while my mouth was blocked with rock salt. This created different states of mood and mind. The image of my friend gagged to death was prominent in my mind. I wanted to come out of this suffocating feeling.
Through actions of various ritualistic healing I could connect to my audience, encouraging them to encounter the truth of life in a pertinent, realistic, and healing manner, in order to reach a moment of catharsis.