inside out: As the stars viewed the Palace
Performance / drawing
August 23–26, 2013
Nikhil Chopra, an artist from India who received his MFA from Ohio State University, returned to Columbus for a tour-de-force public performance during which he created a monumental charcoal and chalk drawing on the exterior of the Palace Theater. The work was based on a photograph from the 1940s titled As the stars viewed the Palace. Taken from the theater stage, the photograph showed a view of rows of empty seats. By reinterpreting the photograph in large scale on the building exterior, Chopra juxtaposed the perspectives of inside/outside, performer/audience, time/space, and reality/illusion.
The dramatic, costumed performance began when Chopra covered his face and hands with ghostly white makeup and clothed himself in a black cape that doubled as the tent in which he slept for three nights. (Costume design and construction were by Loise Braganza.) He worked on the drawing primarily from the elevated platform of an electric lift, taking breaks for lunch and naps in the ornate lobby of the theater, and resuming work until dusk. Each evening he walked or rode a COTA bus to The Ohio State University campus where he pitched his tent near Hopkins Hall, home of the university’s Department of Art. As the days wore on and the charcoal dust settled, Chopra’s white makeup turned to black, ultimately obscuring and transforming his identity over the four-day performance. The performance concluded when Chopra stopped drawing, broke his 78-hour silence, and interacted with the audience that had gathered to witness the drawing’s completion.
Allowed to remain in situ, Chopra's drawing faded from exposure to the elements; the changing and fading traces remained visible through December 2013. When asked about the temporal nature of his work, Chopra replied, "Nothing lasts." In the context of Finding Time, the artist and his performance offered a charged, if fleeting, presence that left an indelible impression on all who witnessed inside out: As the stars viewed the Palace.
This Finding Time project was selected for an Americans for the Arts Public Art Network 2013 Year in Review Award.