Evoking death, drama and identity, George Chakravarthi re-imagines thirteen characters in Shakespeare’s plays who met their ends through suicide.
Thirteen is a series of powerful self-portraits presented as light boxes in which Chakravarthi assumes the roles of some of Shakespeare's doomed characters, including Mark Antony, Othello, Lady Macbeth, Ophelia, Cleopatra, and Romeo and Juliet. In doing so, Chakravarthi explores themes of ambiguity of gender and masking of identity, often central to Shakespeare’s plays.
Chakravarthi says, “Changing perceptions of suicide seemed fertile and contemporary territory for exploration, especially in the context of our current political history and the direct connection to Shakespeare's representation of death as an act of valour, terror, passion and love.”
Using himself as a starting point, Chakravarthi worked behind the scenes with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s costume department to dramatically reconstruct his identity and take on the guise of each character. Each image is layered with multiple textures and surfaces drawn from diverse sources including cobwebs, mould and precious stones. The result of this painstaking process is a series of complex jewel-like images mounted in light boxes, which glow with colour and rich texture, recalling stained glass, monuments or tombs.
Thirteen, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford upon Avon, 2011-2012 Link