Anupam Roy

"Witnessing Body" a being as a living contradiction


I am an art practitioner from West Bengal, but currently based out of New Delhi. I completed my graduation in Painting in 2008 from Bengal Fine Arts College in West Bengal, and went on to do a Master’s Degree in Studio Practice at the School of Culture and Creative Expressions at the Ambedkar University of Delhi. If I try to articulate my last ten years of practice, I would like to consider myself as a propagandist. I say this without any irony. From studio-based visual art practice to community based engagement; from collaborative projects to continuous participation in different published mediums or online sites (magazine, newspaper, leaflet, article); from performance to photographic documentation, the manipulation of self-performative acts; from archival habits to a curatorial encounter with political context-based productions in relation to solidarity with different socio-political movements; from working with counter theatre and film productions or festivals, conferences to organizing workshops, seminar, panel discussion; from interacting with different types of practitioners on a regular basis to initiating dialogues through interviewing, circulating questionnaires, general meeting, sending letters or even non occasional chatting, debating, study circles and even living a life in a commune mode – each and every thing can come into the forefront within the propaganda practice. But the concern and the context’s demands leads to the mode of engaging.


The key idea I would like to share an art practice is the ‘witnessing body’, a concept I am using in contradistinction to the mainstream juridical understanding of a witness as a psychologically stable subject capable of giving rational testimony. Here, the body is removed from its accompanying psychological desire for power and to offend (since the bodily reflex is often to flee or avert in defending oneself). In my usage, the concept of the witnessing body, or more precisely, ‘body in with-ness’, refers to the corporeal presence of both the sufferer and the torturer at the event while the act of violence is taking place. Thereby, I conceive body as a ‘second-order witness’ devoid of any capacity of ‘speech’ (if not ‘scream’), and the place of body as often reduced to that of a mere ‘with-ness’ – a ‘mute’ bearer of violence and torture often pushed to the extreme of deformation and even decapitation. Here the word violence is related to our everyday encounter with society. So therefore I don’t see it as an event, rather one’s own paradoxical existence within the structure. So therefore we as being as a living contradiction. This workshop I envisage as a debating-arguing-descending-reflecting-expressing-engaging-encountering and witnessing zone. “We’re witness to the suffering of our struggling people, we shall bear witness to their liberation.” I would like to conduct the workshop on poster making. Since the poster is a form mainly related to propaganda , it is closely related to politics and activism. Politics is mainly governed by the inequalities and differences that is very much dominant in the society. This inequality is used to oppress various sections of the society. For example: - Gender inequality, Class inequality, Caste inequality. These various sections have their differences and conflict of interest. But since these differences are not linear but multi-layered, I am not focusing on any particular movement. I shall focus on the overall people’s movement and the art forms, calligraphy and posters related to it. We will study and create art pieces from our own point of view and how art expressed the aspirations of different people’s movement in India. It is very difficult to classify the plan day wise. Keeping the idea in mind we will together try to visualize/create political posters, understand relevant slogan/poetry/quotations and the essence of society which is a conglomeration of so many conflicting ideas.