"Masking" by George Chakravarthi (2009)





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Uploaded on Mar 10, 2009

There are many, many examples of literary and visual artists who have adopted alternative personae to apprehend particular experiences, enabling them to physically and intellectually engage with specific discourses or critically interface with a public. The first few examples that come to mind are Clarence Sanders aka Vaginal Davis, Marcel Duchamp as Rrose Selavy. Adrian Piper as The Mythic Being, writer Fernando Pessoa and his seventy-two heteronyms, writer and artist Brian O'Doherty as Patrick Ireland (and several others); all characters functioning for time-limited or long term strategic purposes.

George Chakravarthi has similarly utilized this mode of inquiry and presentation to de and re construct definitions of gender, racial identity and sexuality within his live, photographic and video performances, sometimes hybridising culturally specific iconographic figures in works such as the durational video pieces Shakti, 2003 where an axial character is formed from the Hindu deity Kali and Leonardo Di Vincis Mona Lisa. In Olympia, 2003 Chakravarthi again reprises the position of the central female figure this time Edouard Manet's 1863 Olympia and enacts a queering of this modernist painting in video.

The video installation Barflies, 2004 is a performative exploration of trans-genderism; surveying the perceptions, interactions, excitement and doubts played out in the public environments that three protagonists are singularly situated in.

Chakravarthis very recent works follow a literary trajectory formed from relationships with specific groups and later with the wider public. To The Man in My Dreams, 2006 based itself around the elusive character of daddy to explore real and projected imaginings collapsed around the relational and sexual overtones of the term, daddy. Johnny Shekontai, Chakravarthi's latest persona, gestated from this previous work with male and transgendered sex workers, to explore the parameters of gay pornography, in particular the penchant for the straight guy genre, which Chakravarthi endeavors to inhabit across all visual and communicative realms including the web, which will invite and mobilize a multidisciplinary and interactive relationship with the public.


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