Friday, November 12, 2010

Installation + Concept note

I believe in what I see and I know I can see myself.
But sometimes I do not believe because I cannot really see myself.
I am a non-believer. But that makes me a believer of some kind doesn’t it?
And here is when I see myself caught between believing and not believing.

A few years ago, I went on a road trip with my father to a village in Maharashtra.
We were going at the time of the Wari, a procession which took place in the memory of Saint Dnyaneshwar, a worshipper of Lord Vitthal. My father had walked the Wari a couple of times earlier and listening to his recounts of the journey, the culture, the people, their conviction and belief in whom they walked had made me curious. Why did they walk?
I am not a believer in Lord Vitthal or God and I find it difficult to hold such strong convictions. If asked I would say “I believe in myself, or rather my Self”, ‘Me’, who can touch, feel and whom ‘I’ can control.
And having identified that belief I decided to walk.
Little did I know the fragility of my ‘Belief’. Only a short way into the walk and I was completely immersed in the euphoria of everything around me. The people, the music, and the walk itself were converting me. I felt the power of the space and what it was doing to the Self within it and before I knew it, I was a believer.
For that short period of time, I became a believer of Lord Vitthal. I believed in the walk, the people I walked with and for whom I walked and that is when I saw myself caught in this act of believing and non-believing.
I saw myself temporarily slipping out of believing, entering non-believing and vice-versa. My Self and my beliefs would always be something that was in constant construction from the experiences I had had and was yet to have.This experience changed the very person I was.
Identities are formed out of certain beliefs.  Believing is so internalized, that we do not know that our identities are constantly being redefined by the act of believing. Who you are in this moment, your Self, becomes the base for the experiences that await you. Your identity is being constantly reconstructed through your experiences.
How does it feel then to have your identity challenged when confronted by an alien belief?  What is it like to lose control over what you thought was your Self, to relinquish the belief that this Self was inexorable? How does your Self handle the discomfort of having its identity questioned?
As a non-believer, I walked the Wari and it made me question how I could believe that I was a non believer when in fact I believed.
And because I had questioned that to such an extent, the grounds of belief and non-belief that I stood no longer seemed as firm and compelling. I experienced a fragmentation of my identity into my own beliefs and non-beliefs,
I keep slipping in and out of who I am because my identity stems from the beliefs that I have. But if my beliefs are changing, multiplying, I am constantly being recreated as another self which is always a little different from the earlier one.
A few years ago I went for a walk and it changed the way I look at a lot of things. We don’t know what lies ahead and what experiences may transform us, empower us, or even break us. For now we are who we are and all we can do is walk as a Self within a space.

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