RED RED RED
B. AJAY SHARMA
“Red Red Red” is part of my “Cultivating Hungerland” series of performances, which aims to bring attention to the crisis in farming and rise in farmers’ suicides in rural India. Krishan, a farmer in Morni Hills village, allowed me to use his house as the location. I found corn seeds dumped in front of the house, which inspired me to play with space and material in a parallel way. I went looking for other elements and materials and found a toy car (without wheels), a hammer, a sickle, a portrait of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, and some wood. At the corner of the house, they were drying red chilies and there was another pile of corn seed. I also had two stones in my pocket.
I mapped the space in several layers and placed the objects accordingly to create an experience for the audience that would shine a light on the problems of Indian farming life. Krishan’s house had two rooms; after placing all the objects around the space, I went inside one room and closed the door. I slowly started making sound with the stones. Gradually, I moved and sat in front of the door, and started making fast and loud sounds with both the stones. After a while, a stone broke.
I brought out the orange toy car without wheels and started moving it around the house. I stopped where the red chillies were kept drying on the ground. I tried putting red chilli in my mouth until it was full. I took some red chilli in my hands and went towards the audience. After crossing them, I reached the place where corn was kept. I wrote the word “RED” three times with the red chilli, then slowly moved to the side of the wall where I had put the hammer and sickle. I used some red colour on my tongue and created some shapes with the hammer and sickle, all the while exhibiting my red tongue.
After using the hammer and sickle, I moved around the corner where they had stored the corn seeds and created different rhythms. After performing this action for a duration of around ten minutes, I took off my shirt, lay down on the corn heap, and ate corn seeds for four to five minutes. Then, I slowly got up and moved to the other room and finished my performance.
The audience was able to connect with the symbolism of religious mythology (red tongue), communism (hammer and sickle), and the daily struggles of a farmer living in poverty where their voices are stonewalled.