Two Video Performances
Nirmal Raja


Liminal concepts like memory and perception of time and space are overall interests in my work. I explore remembrance as transitional: how we add to, subtract from, and change our memories, as we remember them. These fleeting and ephemeral moments are activated and brought to the present through installation and performance strategies along with juxtapositions of drawings and prints.

Negotiate engages an ancient diagram which functions as “form,” rooted in its history and culture, somewhat frozen in time. Many centuries ago, it was designed as a problem solving tool- the problem being focusing the mind on meditation. By activating this diagram through animation and performance, I release it from its specificity and “intensify” an inherent potential- one of “virtuality”. The evolution of the work is two fold. The animation dissects the form into infinite moments in time gradually building up and producing the gestalt of a diagram, at a certain point of completion, eventually becoming “still” and standing out as a “figure.” But my interventional performance of making changes to this figure activates it again, dissecting and morphing what is already there. Coupled with the looping installation, it becomes a never-ending repetition of transformation—of becoming figure and then disintegrating into the virtual and becoming figure again. The animation makes the cracks between each mark visible, bringing awareness to the perceptual “bridging” that enables the marks to be perceived as line and the mind to “oversee” as diagram.

Negotiate also alludes to the negation of “ground” as a literal and metaphorical concept. The fragmentation and partiality of my experience as a transplanted individual with multiple identities is expressed through the incorporation of layers. The scattered sand disperses the projection organically onto three layers of plexi-glass produces a result of traveling between the planes

Media: drawing animation and video performance projected on plexi-glass and sand, 2012, 42"X42"X42."


Inspired by a summer of heavy travel, this work is about what the body remembers though rapid change and how memory is malleable and ever changing. In this work, I “sew” moments captured through video with performance. There is a conflation of location and the body actively takes part in this conflation through the superimposed performance of sewing.

ReCollect has a distinct beginning and an end, repeats the act of sewing in an imaginary circle. The sewing starts from the right, gets pulled out from the left and “loops” back to the right to begin again. The loop enhances the sense of ritual as repetitive and strengthens a circular narrative. As it does so, memory is enhanced with repetition that has no connection with the source of the videos. My effort to make the viewer linger and experience rather than look and move on is enhanced by the use of looping video.

Videos—especially home videos—function much like photographs, as they are snippets of time and can only tell stories that are confined within themselves. The un-manipulated audio from the video recordings and the close up, cropped, view of the camera, is meant to evoke a sense of inclusion towards the viewer so he or she feels like they are part of the video. The scale of the projection is kept small so as to relate to human size and enhance this idea of participation. I ask the audience to participate in a reenactment of my memories without becoming specific about time and place. All the elements in this work, including sound, size and content enhance a sense of the haptic among the viewers making it possible for them to suspend belief and enter into an alternative narrative created through video editing, performance and the loop.

Media: Video Projection

Nirmal Raja is an inter-disciplinary artist living and working in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in India, Raja has lived and travelled in several countries. Raja received a Bachelor's of Arts in English Literature in India, a diploma in Graphic Design from the Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia and a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Painting at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in painting and drawing at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She has participated in solo and group shows in the Midwest, nationally and internationally. She is a mentoring resident at RedLine Milwaukee, an urban arts incubator and community print shop. She teaches in various local institutions on a part-time basis. She has received several awards locally including grants from the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Milwaukee Arts Board. Most often, her work deals with concepts of displacement, cultural negotiation and memory.

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