Exotic | ART SUPPER | 21.01.15
Edible Art Movement’s installation at Singapore Art Supper saw many talented artists come together to celebrate food, art and culture.
Daniela Beltrani and Vellachi Ganesan were the two artists that formed the exotic-themed table alongside poet Marc Nair. Their vibrant and spicy artwork and performance lit up the room and proved to be an incredible combination of art, performance and poetry. Below, we speak to both Vellachi and Daniela to find out a little more about their work, themselves and of course, what they like to eat!
Born and bred in Singapore, Vellachi Ganesan is an artist, designer and educator. Her work is an exploration of the human being. She is inspired to make work that is uplifting and happy, spreading positivity around the block. She enjoys yoga and meditation, where she finds the occasional stillness that allows her to contemplate these ideas in an authentic manner. Light is the medium that repeatedly remains the persona of her work.
Stop! And smell the flowers
Teabags, lights, scent, mixed media, 2014
This light and scent artwork shares a simple message of sustainability and respect, for food and nature: Vellachi’s work is a journey from the chaos of living in our contemporary worlds to the still silence that resides deep within every being.
Edible Art Movement: What’s your favourite food memory?
Vellachi Ganesan: My all time favourite comfort food would have to be tea. There is nothing tea can’t fix – be it a tough day or a heartbreak. I don’t know what it is about tea, perhaps the aroma, the warmth (oh yes, I should have mentioned a hot cup of tea!) but it is definitely a gentle treat for all the senses, and an old friend of the heart.
EAM: If you were a food, what would you be and why?
VG: I would want to be some kind of dessert for sure! Perhaps a tiramisu, or mango pudding…or a beautiful chocolate cake – it’s too hard to pick just one! I adore desserts for they always make my day sweeter. There is a sense of celebration with eating desserts, which connects it to the memory of positivity and joy each time one indulges in these sweet treats.
Daniela Beltrani is a professional independent curator and performance artist based in Singapore. She holds a Master of Arts in Contemporary Asian Art Histories from LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore. She has presented over 50 performances, solo and in collaboration, in the Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Cambodia, Myanmar, Turkey, Indonesia, Finland and China. Daniela’s approach to performance art is holistic and goes beyond the mere practice to encompass research, photography and video, contributing essays, attending and organising events. Her current research into Patanjali’s Ashtanga yoga is enriching her performance art repertoire with works, inspired, created and performed with the application of selected yogic practices.
Performance with dal lentil grains and mirror, 2015
The performance Dal is meant to encourage a quiet and meditative journey into the awareness of the very essence of our true self beyond egoistic distractions.
Edible Art Movement: What was your artwork about?
Daniela Beltrani: Dal is a piece I created especially for Singapore Art Supper to respond to the theme of food and art. But the piece camouflages a more important consideration over our breathing which sustains us in every action we perform and which we take for granted.
EAM: What influenced you and inspired you to create this piece?
DB: My yogic meditation and pranayama practices have seeped into the conceptualisation and presentation of some of my performances, since 2013. Considerations inspired by my reading of certain sacred texts, particularly the Bhagavad Gita, have made me question not only what my art-making can or should do, but also what message I am trying to send out to my audience. The mandala-like installation of dal grains on the mirror is attractive in its simplicity, but it is created through a great repetitive effort, sustained concentration and regular, controlled breathing. My question is what are our actions in our life leading to?
EAM: Was Singapore Art Supper the first time you performed this piece? If not, where else has it been performed?
DB: Yes, it was the first time I performed Dal. In performance art there is no rehearsal and often new ideas or images are “tried” directly in front of the audience. Traditional parameters of success and failure no longer make sense within the performance art context.
EAM: How has your art changed since you’ve started studying and practicing yoga?
DB: In the different stages of the life of a performance, from its inspiration and conceptualisation all the way to its actualisation and self-reflection, my art making has become more focused, sensitive, confident, centred and open. But it is an ongoing process and I am nowhere near yet, where I am heading to.
EAM: At Singapore Art Supper, we had an interactive piece where guests were encouraged to share and exchange their food memories, what is a memorable food memory of yours?
DB: Mine is certainly any of the many dishes my mum had cooked for my family over the years. Each one was memorable, because she would inevitably add lots of love as secret ingredient and I could taste it so distinctly. She was a very special woman, besides being my mother.
EAM: We noticed on the night lots of guests were trying to talk to you, how do you manage to stay so focused?
DB: I know, I recognised many friendly voices, but I had set myself boundaries and limits and I try to be strict and professional. I am not there to chit-chat, I am there as a professional artist, making art. My yogic practices of pranayama, dharana (focusing) and dhyana (meditation) helped me immensely and sustained me over the two and half hours, but I must admit that my body gave up slowly in the last 20 minutes. After the last piece I literally kneeled onto the floor. I picked up a nearby glass of clear liquid which I thought was water, as I was very parched, but surprisingly I discovered it was gin!
EAM: what is the longest time you have performed for without a break?
DB: Six hours, sitting down with my eyes closed and my arms extended, during Waiting for You performed at Displacements on 9 June 2013. But I know I can do longer, if necessary. Six hours are nothing: Tehching Hsieh did a few series of One Year Performance between 1978 and 1999.
EAM: finally, what did you do with all the Dal grains afterwards?!
DB: I kept the ones which I had placed on the mirror. I actually poured them into the steamer I had lent for Marc Nair’s poem. The unused ones, I will use for cooking! An Indian friend saw my performance and the following day made a dessert with yellow dal especially for me. I was very touched. See? Art brings people together!
Interview & words by Katrina Broadbent Artworks courtesy of the artists Photography by Marc Nair