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Department of the History of Art and Archaeology

Miss Eva Bentcheva

BA History of Art and Literature (JACOBS UNIVERSITY, GERMANY), MA History of Art and Archaeology (SOAS)

Overview

Eva Bentcheva
Name:
Miss Eva Bentcheva
Email address:
Thesis title:
Performance Art and the Idea of 'India' in the Diasporic Imagination: The Cultural-Politics of British South Asian Live Art, 1960-90
Year of Study:
3
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

Over the past two decades, British South Asian 'performance' in the form of theatre, dance, music and festivals has received a surge of scholarly and popular interest. In contrast, performance and participatory acts in the context of visual art have remained unstudied and under-documented. Focusing on the period from the early 1960s until the late 1990s, my research enhances our knowledge of this concealed, yet highly intriguing and relevant branch of British South Asian modern art.

Rather than situating British South Asian live art into existing chronologies of Euro-American performance art since the 1960s, I argue for the critical need to acknowledge the socio-historical specificities of the British South Asian art scene. This can only take place, I argue, by accounting for the close relationship of British South Asian artists to creative developments in Britain and in light of the recently-revived links to artistic practice in South Asia. In order to address these factors, I have focused my analysis around examining individual artists' goals and aspirations in taking up performance, and analysing their performances in light of wider debates on the interpretation of performance art through the scope of an ethnic or diasporic group. Should ethno-diasporic performance art be read primarily as political commentry? What other aesthetic and conceptual issues are at stake? What is the relationship between performance art and personal/artistic identity? Has the move into performance and participatory art enable access to new markets and audiences? These are among the questions which are raised in my writing.

As performance art prior to the 1990s has been largely undocumented, I have drawn evidence and examples for my thesis by conducting primary interviews with artists and consulting their private archives. In its final form, my thesis will strive to serve as a visual and textual repository of unexamined works, and a critical exposition of a previously untold 'history' of British South Asian live art.

PhD Publications

'Who belongs in the New Art History? Exploring Cultural Boundaries in Sutapa Biswas’ Performance ‘Kali’ (1984)'. SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, (Spring, 2014).

'Tokens of a Time Gone By: Reanimating History as Art in the Work of Noel Ed De Leon', London Biennale and the Philippine Embassy of London (2014).

'Bamako - London: A Collaborative Exhibition of Exchanges'. Africa Journal, (2012) 82 (2): 340-341.

PhD Conferences

  • Titling the World: Histories of Modern and Contemporary Asian Art, University of Sydney, 29th-30th Nov 2013, Paper: "Escaping the Nar(ra)tive in 1960s’ Britain: David Medalla’s Fusion of Asian Iconography and Performance Art."
  • Visual Culture in Crisis: Britain 1800 to the Present, University of York, May 2013, Paper: "Exploring Diaspora Struggles: The Performance Artwork ‘Kali’ by Sutapa Biswas."

Affiliations

Royal Asiatic Society, Fellow
London Biennale, Curator
British South Asian Theatre Memories Project, Research Associate

Teaching

Senior Teaching Fellow, Diapsora Contexts and Visual Culture (MA), Department of Art History and Archaeology (SOAS)

Research

Performance and participatory art, diasporic art, British South Asian modern and contemporary art, transnational artistic practices, markets and networks.