KHOJ, supported by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan New Delhi and The Royal Norwegian Embassy, presented On Mourning.
To refuse to mourn is to condemn a trauma to repeat itself ad infinitum. But can repeated mourning ever take the form of a productive practice?
How can we (un)learn through exposure to absence? Despite the intensely personal nature of mourning, to witness a mourner often makes tangible the intimate, aching anguish that all of us have felt at some point. On Mourning was a live event that extended the positions on trauma outlined in KHOJ‘s exhibition Nameless Here for Evermore, by setting up a dialogue with a traditional performative practice.
Lakshmi, who has been a professional mourner for over 20 years, was in conversation with Janagi, a young person interested in learning the ritual/performance form. Lakshmi transformed this ritual (traditionally a practice where women sing in mourning of a man’s passing) by performing an intense autobiographical composition, which extended beyond a single event/deceased body. The event was designed as a pedagogical interaction, wherein Lakshmi shared, recounted, and performed in response to the question of whether mourning could ever take form as a productive practice.
The event was conceptualized in collaboration with Amitesh Grover, Shaunak Sen and Arnika Ahldag.