Negrophilia is a comprehensively documented Euro-American fascination with African and Black diasporic cultures. The allure continues to be prevalent in European cultures through other forms and guises, from academia to Art and popular culture. Negrophilia! is an exploration of the Parisian avant-garde culture of the 1920s and its fascination with Africanism (Negrophilia), whilst also referencing Hollywood cinema of the same era such as I Walked With A Zombie, Cat People and King Kong, surrealist artists such Man Ray and Méret Oppenheim, and Darwin’s illustrations of evolution, encapsulated through the image and political discourses of Josephine Baker.
Duration 60.00, excerpt 8.53
Olympia is a reworking of Manet’s painting with further complexities. Chakravarthi is seen as ‘Olympia’, a sexually ambiguous figure - dark, transfixed and oblivious to the white male 'servant'. The tension between the two is filled with ambiguity, suggesting emotions of indifference, love, rejection, lust and obsession.
Duration 60.00, excerpt 1.49
Barflies follows the adventures of three particular archetypal transvestites in bars, pubs and clubs. Surveillance footage of each and their interactions reveal our perceptions, prejudices, excitements and fears of the third gender.
The three videos run simultaneously alongside a soundtrack created by Chakravarthi as he plays each character, exchanging and weaving conversations with other transvestites and their seekers on a telephone chat line. These stimulating dialogues switch from the mundane and sexual to the deeply confessional.
Duration 60.00, excerpt 2.07
Mona Lisa is the enigmatic icon of the West; Kali, the Hindu goddess of destruction and creation, is the cryptic force of the East. Although cultures apart in significance and history, they both signify androgyny, ambivalence and ambiguity. When combined together they create a distinct ‘shakti’ (translated from Sanskrit as force, energy). Executed through moving image, the piece integrates painting, performance and cultural hybridity.
An hour-long piece filmed in real time, Shakti is viewed as a painting. This self-portrait places Chakravarthi as the complex hybrid figure questioning gender identities, iconography and sexuality, originating from the East and relocated and explored in the West.
Commissioned by The Live Art Development Agency, Masking is an exploration of many forms dehumanisation of the self. Masking is primarily concerned with disguising and concealing one's gender and racial identity. It allows the 'masker' to create and manipulate multiple forms, personas and identities.
Inspired by sex dolls and reoccurring, stereotypical images of women in pornography.
Filmed in real time, Genesis explores emotions and physical metamorphosis as Chakravarthi reveals a series of human sentiments and passions.
Duration 15.00, excerpt 4.07
Remotecontrol shows Chakravarthi taking on the male and female forms. Inspired by fashion photography, gender and body politics, the piece is accompanied by a haunting abstract soundtrack of Chakravarthi’s voice and a violin. In the constrictions and trappings of the media, the piece filters and re-ignites our perceptions of the human form and its subtle stances.
Memorabilia/Aradhana is an homage to Bollywood cinema. Performed by the artist playing both characters, it is typical in style and content of popular Indian cinema. The subtitles highlight some conflicting truths about the patriarchal culture, reflecting some of the inequalities in one of the world’s largest democracies.
Narcissism, identity, reflection and loss.