CONTAGION : Performance, Space, Community was a series of 8 curated conversations addressing gathering as a basic human need through the lens of performance and performance spaces. It was curated by Christphe Knoch, Sharvari Sastry and Vikram Iyengar

The series ran through every weekend, from 25 September to 17 October, 2020
7pm to 8:30pm daily.

Contagion was co-presented with Goethe-Insititut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata & OffBeat CCU

Click here for a playlist of the session recaps

What is it
About ?25410

During Widening Circles: Pickle Factory Season 2 in November 2019, we had initiated a series of conversations and site visits in Calcutta focussing on repurposing spaces for performance. This was towards our big dream of setting up a permanent venue for dance and movement practice, a place where people come to share, experience and exchange ideas, challenge and be challenged back. From April 2020 onwards, we had planned a series of further conversations that would culminate in a symposium in September-October. With the pandemic, that, of course, was now impossible.

We asked ourselves – what was everyone missing? The ability to gather – anywhere, with anyone, for anything. And to gather is a human need – not just a performative one. And we had a direct connection to that .


Montage of panelists for Contagion: Performance, Space, Community, Sept – Oct 2020

And so, CONTAGION: Performance, Space, Community was born – a series of 8 curated conversations and presentations addressing the live performance experience as an art and part of the human act of assembly. Curated by Vikram Iyengar, Sharvari Sastry and Christophe Knoch, the series was co-presented by the Pickle Factory Dance Foundation and Goethe-Insititut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata. In losing the ability to gather, we had realised how vital it is for us to assemble together, and to have public spaces that encourage and welcome this most human of desires. The performing arts sector across the world was among the worst hit. This is where CONTAGION: Performance, Space, Community stepped in, with a conviction that the live performance experience is vital for the health of a society and that performance spaces and experiences should be re-imagined as a celebration of that vitality. Over four weekends themed Gather, Question, Catalyse, and Imagine, the series investigated:
• gathering spaces as a societal need
• the uniqueness of the live performance experience
• possible ways forward for artists, audiences and venues to build and celebrate strong and empathetic communities.

For us it was imperative that we get out of our silos of performance and art worlds, and talk to other sectors. Our list of 27 presenters therefore had people from the arts – of course – but also academia, sport, economics and business, public health, education, social activism, the non-profit sector, and digital technologies. We were also especially keen that we feature voices that are not often heard on such platforms avoiding the usual suspects both from India and the global north.

Curators 25410

After studying law, Christophe Knoch worked for different institutions in the fields of opera and theatre. He worked for theatre director and performance artist Christoph Schlingensief as his assistant up until his death in August 2010 when he was entrusted with running operations, notable for the construction of the Opera Village in Burkina Faso.
In Spring 2011 Christophe Knoch started the Mica Moca project in Berlin, which evolved to make a strong transdisciplinary impact on the Berlin venue scene.
He currently drives the public discussion on how to repurpose public spaces in Berlin. In his last project he combined his commitment to  artistic and urban development in suggesting the creation of a forest in Berlin’s closed airport Tempelhof.

Sharvari Sastry has been working as a theatre administrator and researcher in Mumbai since 2009. She has worked in an administrative and editorial capacity with Theatre Professionals Pvt. Ltd., Prithvi Theatre, India Theatre Forum and Junoon.
She has also been involved in the documentation of two SMART (Strategic Management in the Art of Theatre) residencies. She is currently working on a collaborative project that seeks to identify small, alternative performance spaces in various parts of India, document the vision that underlies in the creation and curation of such spaces, and assess their impact within the local and national context.
Sharvari is currently a PhD candidate in the departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and Theater and Performance Studies at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation project focuses on archival discourses within modern and contemporary Indian theatre practice, with particular focus on the ways in which “folk” forms like tamasha and lavani are preserved, revived and repurposed in the modern Marathi theatrical context.

Vikram Iyengar is an arts leader and connector based in Calcutta, India and working internationally. A dancer-choreographer, arts writer, and curator-presenter, he heads the performance company Ranan and the Pickle Factory Dance Foundation. His scope of work spans practice, discourse, critique and management, and revolves around the central tenet of creating deep connections with and through the arts. An ARThink South Asia Arts Management Fellow, Global Fellow of the International Society for the Performing Arts, and alumnus of the Australian International Arts Leaders programme, Vikram was awarded the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar from the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Government of India for his work in contemporary dance in 2015.

Sessions 25410

Credits 25410

Contagion: Performance, Space, Community is imagined and produced by Pickle Factory Dance Foundation, Calcutta in partnership with Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata.
The project is co-presented with Offbeat CCU
Project Partners: Goethe Institut, Bangladesh; Australian Consulate, Kolkata; Wales Arts International
Curators: Vikram Iyengar, Sharvari Sastry, Christophe Knoch
Project Management: Kunal Chakraborty
Creatives: Sharanya Chattopadhyay
PR and Communications: Kritika Dey
Social Media: Sangram Mukhopadhyay and Srestha Das Chowdhury
Production: Dana Roy and Rebecca Johns
Documentation: Sohini Banerjee and Aopala Banerjee
Administration: Jayati Chakraborty and Sharmistha Sarker

Acknowledgements 25410

Agniva Ray, Analina Sanyal, Ankita Banerjee, Christine Devaney, DAG Museums, Daniel Sim, Deep Ghosh, Dianne Tauro, Dipti Rao, East Bengal Ultras TV, Friso Maecker, Hema Rance, Koninika Roy, Lindsey Colbourne, Mahmud Alam, Malavika Banerjee, Meghdut RoyChowdhury, Madhura Aphale, Mukta Pai, Nicola Morgan, Nimi Ravindran, Nishit Arora, Nora Fleruy, Pallavi Khare, Parmesh Shahani, Ramanjit Kaur, Rashmi Dhanwani, Ruchira Das, Saleem Gondal, Sameera Iyengar, Sanchayita Bhattacharya, Shiva Pathak, Sreetoma Purkayastha, Subhagata Singha (Rivu), Sudeshna Banerjee, Sudipta Ghosh, Sumit Roy, Sumona Chakravarty, Toshal Gandhi, Yadhukrishnan ™

Pickle Factory Dance Foundation, Calcutta is a not-for-profit
company registered under Section 8 of The Companies Act, 2013.
The company was incorporated on 12 July 2017.

© All images and text are copyright of Pickle Factory except where otherwise specified.