What did you decide on first: the subject of your artwork (identity) or the medium (canvases and dance)?
The concept of identity has always been a source of fascination for me. As a mixed-race child, I began to experience the complexities of identity at a young age. Now, I am drawn to the idea of identity as a dynamic and often painful process. It’s something that exists within each of us, but we choose how much of it to reveal to the world. In our modern world, identities have expanded into various realms, and as we travel to different places, we become part of a larger, diverse community.
The three dancers portrayed in paintings with only half of their bodies depicted served me as a starting point for exploring the fluid nature of identity. Our identities are continually shifting, for better or for worse, and these paintings reflect that truth. They remind me that identity is a journey, a process, and a work in progress. As we move through life, we must embrace the evolving nature of our identities and strive to appreciate the richness and diversity that exists within ourselves and others.
Canvas artist Desiree Bashi. Dance performance: Desiree Bashi, Parvati Rajamani, Sheila Taneja, Kripa.
What interests you about ‘alternative’ media in dance?
Using paintings as a medium for dance choreography is a fascinating way to weave a story into the fabric of movement. As an artist, I am captivated by the idea of using paintings to create a new identity – one that is both unique and enduring. The dancers depicted in my paintings may remain physically unchanged, but the passage of time and human interaction has irrevocably shifted the way we see ourselves and others.
My approach to portraiture is different from traditional methods. By choosing to work with different media, I am able to imbue each piece with a distinct identity that speaks to the dancer/human depicted in the painting. Through this process, I seek to capture the essence of what makes each dancer/human unique and convey it through the art form of painting. It is through this fusion of dance and painting that a new and dynamic form of storytelling emerges, one that is both timeless and contemporary.
What led to your interest in art identity?
I find myself drawn to exploring different intercultural perspectives, perhaps due to my own personal experiences. I am intrigued by the ever-changing nature of things, especially when it comes to identity. We all carry our identities with us, but my generation is unique in that we are living at a pivotal moment where the ability to travel has transformed the way we live and interact with each other. It’s a time of excitement and uncertainty, as we embrace the richness of our diverse society. We are at the cusp of a great change, and it’s impossible to predict where this journey will take us. But there is a sense of dynamism in the air, a feeling that we are part of something big and transformative.
Cultures, sometimes take a backseat, as we try to conform. Is this something which should be brought to attention in a world where prejudice stops us from feeling free to express ourselves culturally?
It’s incredible how identity is in a perpetual state of progression, constantly evolving and shifting. We often forget to take a moment to reflect on the elements that were once significant in shaping our identity. Our memories and cultural heritage fuel our creativity, and it’s essential to acknowledge and celebrate them. In the midst of prejudice and division, there seems to be a movement emerging, using dance and canvases as a tool to bridge cultural gaps. As people travel across the globe, learning from and blending with different cultures, it’s an inspiring time to be part of this movement towards positive change.
Desiree Bashi’s choreography is truly unique, as it blends her fascination with static painted dancers on canvases with the constant progression of movement in dance. She weaves a tapestry of dance and art that is both mesmerizing and thought-provoking. Her work is a reflection of her own dynamic identity and her exploration of how identity can be expressed through multiple mediums. Through her art, she encourages us to ponder the interplay between stasis and change, between the static nature of painting and the dynamic nature of dance.