Show Type: Bouffon
Performed at Gallery #1: B Contemporary Gallery
Review by: Jessica Perkins
Although un-settling was originally constructed as part of an educational workshop for seventh graders, its complex themes are ones we all struggle to understand, no matter what our age. un-settling is about the relationship between colonization and identity.
Writer and performer Nisha Ahuja takes us on a journey of cultural assimilation and colonization through the eyes of a person of colour. Rather than show or tell us her character’s perspective, she involves the audience as a means to completely immerse us in her experience and engage with the ideas presented.
In the style of bouffon, Ahuja playfully tackles the heavy and painful effects of colonisation. Donning white face, the colonized becomes the colonizer as she attempts to teach us how to succeed in the white man’s world. She begins with the dismantling of any afore-known language or culture. She has us repeat her lessons, forcing us to internalize them. We begin to see how this kind of knowledge is shared…how ideologies of inequality and the “white man’s burden” trickle down from person to person, generation to generation, century to century.
Ahuja is a remarkably talented artist. She is funny, engaging, strong and open. I particularly enjoyed the talk-back session that followed the performance, where Ahuja took questions facilitated a worthwhile discussion. A must see.