“In stepping into a costume, you commit yourself to being something other than the character you play each day. It is a transformation capable of changing the mannerisms of the wearer, granting them access to an entirely different life.'’
- Greg French
“Our social identity is built quietly over years, to define our gender, body, clothing… behavior and disposition. We are compelled to live by unchallenged norms. We ‘become’ as ‘being’ is simply not enough. We don masks and armours, as we struggle with sexual, political, and religious confines. Society is not kind to rebels. They are the outcasts, the outsiders, and the mutinous,”
says Swarup Dutta of his debut photography exhibition in Mumbai at ARTISANS’, Kala Ghoda. Artist, photographer, and scenographer, Dutta first designed a series of bamboo armours or cages for a project, executed by the bamboo craftspeople of Kolkata. It later occurred to him that these could act as costumes in tandem with the human body.
Armour of Weaknesses shows bodies moving painfully in and out of expertly crafted bamboo structures as if slipping in and out of real and assumed identities. The bodies are androgynous. They do not conform to type, shape or size. Delicately poised on high heels, the dancers contort to fit into bamboo contraptions, while the artist-photographer relentlessly and rapidly captures their struggle on camera.
About Swarup Dutta
Swarup Dutta was born in Calcutta, and is an alumnus of Nottingham Trent University, UK, and the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), India. The former Dean at the Institute of Crafts and Design (IICD), Jaipur, and Professor at NIFT, Kolkata, is passionate about design and craft education.