Self-Portraits with Amrita


Inspired by the paintings of Amrita Sher-Gil, the work explores ways in which cultural memory is stored in the body and in stories. Sher-Gil’s paintings seem to do this as she negotiates her own dual nature in her work. ‘Born in 1913 in Budapest to a Sikh aristocrat father, and an opera singer mother from Hungary. Her portraits formed a narrative that evoked the earthy sensuality of women leading cloistered lives in rural India, but she also exposed her own sensuality through a series of bold self-portraits and nudes.’


We hope the making and sharing of this production will provoke South Asian Canadians to engage with their own cultural hybridity and find out how sharing stories and dances can bring to life current experience. Self-portraits and cultural hybridity lie at the heart of this project. ‘Who am I now?’ is the question. The choreography features a series of solos which connect with spoken word and/or rap that brings into play the traditional and the contemporary in movement. 

After a period of research with women from the Punjabi communities of Ottawa and Brampton, Arzoo and Gupta wish to develop this work into a production that will combine spoken word/story telling, movement, music and media installation. Duets, trios and ensemble work will bring to life the women in the paintings in scenes much like theatre vignettes. The script will be written as a collaborative process with Sheniz Janmohamed.