Particiipating Artist in Art Through the Eye of the Needle : Sutapa Biswas
To Kill Two Birds With One Stone, 2000, is an ongoing collaborative, performance work related to fashion, the body, and the condition of displacement. It is a work whose title suggests an array of issues, subjects and solutions. Using the sari, the common garment for women in India, Biswas has invented a work that acts as a catalyst for both audience and collaborators to unravel histories and contemplate the future. The sari is used as a garment that speaks foremost about the female body and a sign for diversity and change in contemporary society anywhere.
Neatly folded and placed in rows on the floor of the gallery, one sari for every letter of the alphabet, their colors and patterns establish a space in the room, framing a site of difference, an arena around which an audience gathers. Most of the saris have been borrowed from local women. Each lender has been asked to write something on a tag about her sari, which is attached to the sari. Their contents are also incorporated into a larger narrative that includes recorded conversations from previous
performances. Together they breath life into these inanimate objects by telling personal, national and local histories. The display of tagged saris on the gallery floor resembles a museum display that speaks about classification and identity through ethnography. Yet the content of the display is about contemporary women and their reading of yesterday, today and tomorrow, about their hopes, dreams and desires. The cultural references to an Indian diaspora make the work an open discussion about the here and now, about the never-ending cultural reciprocity in the fashion world and in society. The act of borrowing a sari is not easy, for it is fraught with traditional notions of privacy. The sari is a private and personal item of clothing. There is an intimate relationship between wearer and garment. Offering it for another use is an act of great generosity that displays a willingness to share and transgress the boundary of tradition.