The famous physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer reciting Bhagavad-Gita(1) provokes many discomforts into action.
The very first is Oppenheimer’s performative action in front of the camera. His body language, gestures suggest the tension of a confrontation. The video is addressed to the mankind using camera as the medium. It represent J. Robert Oppenheimer as a victim of various political concerns and decisions, which hobble/gobble up the freedom of science, with the power of knowledge. The scientist is performing as a victim also carrying guilt,which make it more complex. Sometimes it seems Oppenheimer searching a way out fromhis trauma by reciting the spiritual text, but simultaneously defending or justifying the evil atomic experiment and violence on the basis of dharma and karma, alluding with what lord Krishna suggested to Prince Arjuna.
Bhagwat Gita is complex because all it allows many interpretations and simultaneity, while also somehow legitimising violence of the righteous. Bhagavad-Gita puts the reader in an outsider’s position to inculcate an objective view towards the world. The text proposes ‘distance’ as a parameter/ground for judgement and enlightenment. ‘Distance’ allows different kinds of visibilities. As closely as Oppenheimer could see and described, “few people are laughing, few people are crying, most people are silent”. If the physicist knew “the world would not be the same”, who persuaded this change through violence? He also questions the role of science as knowledge for the development of mankind as understood previously.
I want to take the video documentation as raw material to think and work further. I want see this video as a performance, what it exposes, offers or reduces? I am interested in the cinematic mediation of the speech. Camera’s action of re-takes, repetition and perfection of the image. How the video as a fiction detached itself from it’s historicity? And What will happen if people asked perform like Oppenheimer in front of the camera? And what is to read and recite a text like Bhagwat Gita.
I propose to do performances, videos work and text-based installation. The project will focus on “reciting” as a performative action. The hyper-textuality of Bhagavad-Gita propagates the same rhetorical relationship of truth with power.