Throughout history, art has played a vital role in social movements; visual and performing arts have oftentimes been used as mediums to advance social change and shed light on myriad issues in creative ways. Several global artists are committed to using art as a tool to create a new form of social practices that can engage communities.
The Particle Collective (TPC) is one such group on home ground. This collective of artists who hail from different parts of the country is on a mission to address our everyday realities through their artistic practice.
The group—it formed in July 2019—has initiated a series of projects, over the years, most of which are in response to themes of oppression, discrimination, and sustainability. “What brings us together is our ideology—we believe that art has great power to change, influence, and draw people to action,” shared Shruti (they/them), a founding member.
Power of collaboration
The founding members of TPC met each other while working on a theatrical production—the group, however, has expanded and now comprises about 16 members. After encountering a similar feeling of “disillusionment” from several injustices, they decided to channel their creativity into projects that can highlight socio-political issues and bring about change.
“All members were working on different projects but nothing that was for one purpose. With TPC, we thought we could try and make something more meaningful,” shared Godavar (he/him), another founding member who is a writer.
This group functions as a multidisciplinary organisation—members of TPC include poets, writers, movement practitioners, and visual artists, among others, who collaborate together. To illustrate the organisation's values and principles, one can look at the festival ‘Spirit of Africa’, which the Collective organised in 2019.
The idea of this event was to draw attention to racist violence against people of African origin in India. “It was a way of familiarising the locals to the culturally-rich continent that Africa is.
Striving for change
Central to TPC’s work is their attempt to keep their work discourse-oriented—they often create a conversation between the audience and the spectators. Using this approach, they focus on themes including gender, caste, the body, as well as several issues that plague our day-to-day existence.
Their ongoing project ‘Daana Daana Pitaara’—a collection of over 25 songs of resistance that the group performs at various events, the most recent one being at The Phosphene, an art exhibition that took place on Saturday at The Hosteller in New Friends Colony.
“By staging accurate and empathetic representation of the oppression and atrocities via songs or dramatic performances, we want to inspire people to become aware and vocal regarding their constitutional rights,” another member of the collective shared on condition of anonymity.
Art can be an agent for change; this belief by TPC was further substantiated when they joined the 2020-2021 farmers’ protest and showcased ‘Daana Daana Inquilab’, a trilingual theatrical performance to show solidarity with the protestors.
Apart from this, they have also created ‘Tehreek e Zarra’, a dastangoi performance that revisited the mushairas of various poets from Delhi. It was showcased during the Citizenship Amendment Act protests, which took place in various parts of the country in 2019.
"Often, we find that in practice, constitutional values are not really upheld. Our attempt, as an organisation, is to hold true to these values. We aim to create art that speaks about equality, injustice, liberty," added Godavar.
Art beyond boundaries
Apart from performances, the group also routinely collaborates with several organisations to conduct workshops and exhibitions around performance making, theatre, etc. In fact, TPC recently won a grant, ‘Culture Over Coffee’, a joint initiative by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and Cambodian Living Arts (CLA).
Through this, the Collective looks forward to creating dialogue around sustainability and the role that arts can play to bring focus on the same.
On being asked about their immediate plans, the members tell us that they are looking forward to making ‘Daana Daana Pitaara’ a long-term engagement “by continuously adding and updating songs to the repertoire, and by making it more accessible”.
They are also working on a queer-centric arts festival titled ‘Flying Chameleon’, which will provide a platform for voices from the LGBTQIA+ community and bridge intersectional feminism with art and culture.