ON MOURNING

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 practice where women sing in mourning of a man's passing, Lakshmi develops this ritual further by performing an intense autobiographical rendition, which extends beyond the single event of one deceased body. Lakshmi shares, recounts, and performs in response to Janagi’s queries.

Conceptualised by Amitesh Grover (with Shaunak Sen & Arnika Ahldag) | Performed by Lakshmi R, Sathanantham, Antony Janagi, Jayalakshmi, Arivazhagan | Sound Design by Hemant Sreekumar | Interpreters Aprameya Manthena, Serene Hellion et al.

Duration: 90 minutes | Language: Tamil (with live interpretation in multiple languages on wireless headphones) | Documentation & Film by Shaunak Sen | Supported by Khoj International Artists' Association | European Premiere Festival Belluard Bollwerk International, Switzerland. 2016