Chandra-Mandala: the Luminous Space That Connects Chandralekha’s Vision and Practice of Art

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Chandra-Mandala: The Luminous Space that Connects Chandralekha’s Vision and Practice of Art (Paper presented at the C PRACSIS International Conference on ‘Visual Spaces’ at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai, Jan 21-22, 2012) Rizio Yohannan Raj This paper has originated from a puzzle that I have confronted as a creative writer and artist since last October when I chanced to receive my first direct intimation of the curiously multi-faceted work of the late choreographer, visual artist, poet Chandralekha. Before our brief tryst mediated through Sadanand Menon, Chandralekha’s close associate for more than three decades, I knew her only through some publically available photographs and newspaper articles on her that made me think that she had been a sort of fire, as they say. Those blazing images had enchanted me, but never beckoned me to go in search of her philosophy of art. It was as though the distant enchantment was enough for me. My puzzlement began with the rather painful recognition that Chandra was not ‘available’ to me when I wanted to know her. (I have begun to refer to her as ‘Chandra’ as her associates have always done) The first question that stemmed from this personal predicament was: ‘What could even the most brilliant work of a performer, whose art belongs to her live moment, mean to someone who is separated from her in time and space?’. While searching for an answer to the above question, I engaged myself in some predictable activities: read more of the publically available material on Chandra and her work, talked with some of her collaborators, all of which helped in minor ways, of course, in taking my quest forward. But, it soon became apparent that beyond sharing a lot of exciting anecdotal narratives that, though inadvertently, presented Chandra as a fierier-than-life figure to a listener, and some snatches of insightful

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