Drag helps you be aware
Being an extremely extrovert and sublime person, I loved to keep myself surrounded by people all the time. A usual day would not be possible without meeting at least 50 people. However, as soon as the news of Coronavirus came and soon became a situation of lockdown the boundaries around me sucked in and became tight. Within days, I got confined to the four walls. Days majorly went in retrospection and telling myself, I cannot stop. Thankfully I had a camera and a friend who can click pictures. It was then I decided I would create an art with this medium. When I do Drag it helps me to create voice for myself. While quarantined, I started telling myself "Queer people lived half of their life in closets, so it would be a cakewalk for us to be isolated for few days, but it actually gives opportunity to put the heteronormative society within a confined space so it could get similar to the closet experiences." And that is why it's important to be in drag when in quarantine. Every day I picked up a look. When I started, I got the very inspiration from the excessively heard term over the week "Corona Virus".
Culture of anti-art gives the opportunity to represent even diseases. Taking an example from Japanese dance Butoh, which represents diseases via art I got the idea to decentralise drag to represent disease in human form. When you present something in a human form there is an awareness, a reliability and an imagination which makes people aware; it was also essential to represent a disease to untag the fear and make it just a person to fight with.
As the days followed, I started picking up trash or lump material, which I already had and started using things around me time and again to create an image of what art needs to look like. I created a Drag art specimen called "Hairy Fairy" with wigs to talk about body hair, created a look from 50 empty cigarette boxes "Smoking God" asking to quit smoking etc.
The most exciting time I presented Drag was by recreating painting of renowned Telangana Painter ThotaVaikuntam where his stokes; bring Telangana women and stories of urban India in a bright illuminating colour. Recreating painting with photography was something, which was done majorly for Raja Ravi Verma however bringing the originality of other painters work to life is a bit rare. These paintings were so inspirational that I wanted to present them via a vision of Drag. Though the paintings were of women, I presented them as Transvestite men in drag replicating each poster with body modelling and the output was something which was closer to my heart. This gave me an opportunity to investigate the roots of Telugu land and carve Drag out of our culture.
I used a SilicalSaree with bright yellow and black face paint. The representation was to ensure to go as close to the paintings as I could with minimum resources, selecting one painting at a time and recreating the same with a camera. It was also wonderful support of my quarantined roommate RakeshAsileti, who helped me get clicked with his photographic skills.
While the lockdown days are still going on, I am trying all possible ways to create more and more art through this medium. It's rare an artist gets an opportunity with time to look back and analyses their art and I believe it's the right time we all do that. Also, for artforms like "Drag" where we often get worried about people not turning up or count of audience. This is the time we look for a wider space. My constant creation of Drag images opened new avenues to share art. I either presented it via the platform,Behance and even went on to host Hyderabad's first online Drag show via Instagram with other six Drag queens joining in. It was a surreal experience as we could see the effort reaching to a wider audience and art being available to everyone.
Though these are tough times for the entire world, we artists have a lot of responsibility as we are the only soul mode through, which we can motivate, elevate people's thinking and their morals and inspire them to be strong and fight it together. We must ensure that we create art not for ourselves but for everyone around. As Bollywood says "Picture abhibakihai mere dost", and the show must go on.
The writer is a classical dancer and a Drag artist
Taking an example from Japanese dance Butoh, which represents diseases via art I got the idea to decentralise drag to represent disease in human form. When you present something in a human form there is awareness, reliability and an imagination, which makes people aware