Nikhil Chopra’s Coal on Cotton

Elizabeth Prendiville shares a note on Nikhil Chopra’s performance at the Manchester International Festival this summer

New York: Performance artist Nikhil Chopra will be executing a very unique site specific piece over the course of sixty five hours at the Manchester International Festival this summer. Over the nearly three full day Chopra will be performing his piece “Coal on Cotton” for a live audience at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. This space is particularly different because it is currently unfinished and under construction.  In addition to carrying out his normal daily habits such as eating and sleeping, Chopra will be drawing specifically with coal.

Nikhil Chopra at Manchester International Festival

Nikhil Chopra at Manchester International Festival. Image Credit:

Chopra utilizes materials that directly relate to the meaning of his work. He draws on cotton from Mumbai that was woven in one of the few remaining historical textile manufacturers left in Manchester. By using these materials he engages the audience in a discussion about these two individual colonial cities that are linked in the historical context by the textile industry. Through his work and the use of the characters he embodies, Chopra hopes to reclaim and revitalize the histories of these two places as well as bring them into a contemporary context.

Chopra moved to the United States in 1997 to pursue his Masters in Fine Art at Ohio State University. At the university he began to explore performance art as his chosen medium. Within his work Chopra plays a variety of characters, all of which have a historical element as well as a biographical one. Throughout his career his performance art pieces have been shown at a variety of esteemed international art destinations including New York City, Sydney and the Venice Biennial.

Although creating a live artistic piece over the entirety of sixty five hours may seem like an expression of shock value for audience members, Chopra insists that this allotted time is entirely necessary for the creation of the piece. His artist statement claims that this time allows him to truly manipulate and change the space, creating a transformative and liminal experience for audience members. Nikhil Chopra’s inventive discussion of the history of the textile industry from an Indian and Euro-centric scope is sure to be a must see at the Manchester International Festival this year. His performance will take place July 5th through July 7th.

To learn more about the festival click here.

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