The Manganiyar Seduction

Last week, I saw the Manganiyar Seduction, a performance by the Manganiyars, a tribe of Rajasthani Muslim folk musicians, at the Barbican Centre. Visualise four tiers of curtained boxes ringed with lights. Then imagine each ‘window’ opening and lighting up to reveal a musician over the course of 75 minutes, one by one. The crescendo of the performance, by which time all 40 boxes were opened, a variety of Indian instruments were being played by the artists simultaneously and the lights assumed a character of their own, was really a sight to behold.

Roysten Abel, the director, visualised the production as being a combination of the intrigue induced by a red-light district, and the mystery and elegance of Indian palace windows where women would view processions in the olden days ‘while unwittingly becoming subjects of voyeurism themselves’.

Two completely different ideas inspired Abel to create something that on being described to someone for the first time might have sounded daft. Yet he pulled it off.

I think it’s a nice example of what Faris says here:

Fundamentally, I do not believe creativity can come from nothing. In fact, I don’t even think ‘originality’ can even mean that.

If something truly had no referent elsewhere in culture – how would we even understand it?

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