On Mourning


Performed by mourners

Khoj Studios, Delhi 2015

live art & installation

Lakshmi R, Sathanantham and Antony Janagi
Amitesh Grover, Arnika Ahldag and Shaunak Sen
Supported by
Khoj International Artists' Association

Refusal to mourn means condemning a trauma to repeat itself ad infinitum. But can ritualistic mourning ever take form as a productive practice? What can we learn or indeed unlearn through exposure to absence? Despite the intensely personal nature of mourning, a professional mourner often succeeds in creating that intimate, aching anguish that all of us have felt at some point.

Lakshmi, a professional mourner for the last 20 years, is seen in conversation with Janagi, a young person interested in learning the ritual performance. Traditionally a practicewhere women sing in mourning of a man's passing, Lakshmi develops this ritual further by performing an intense autobiographical rendition, which extends beyond the singleevent of one deceased body. Lakshmi shares, recounts, and performs in response to Janagi's queries.