Performing to Provoke

This week, if you see a foreigner, seemingly headless and dressed in a perfectly-tailored suit, as he walks the streets while carrying a massive mirror, don't be alarmed. In fact, Mexican artiste Roberto de la Torre would love it if you take part in his performance piece. In a powerful statement about the contrasting economic conditions of the country, de la Torre's mirror will reflect the apparent disdain of the moneyed for the poor.

In de la Torre's performance, one will see slums reflected in the mirror while highrises will be visible above him. With the mirror's reflective surface held outwards, it will make the artiste appear headless. "I believe that humanity has lost its head and does not know where it is going. I saw a picture from the '40s or '50s of a man carrying a mirror; the fact that he looks headless was very powerful," says the 46-year-old artiste.

Although de la Torre will be working on his new performance piece this week, the artiste is in the city for an altogether different reason. He is part of a group show, titled "Transcendental Evocations", at Lakeeren gallery. The show features five Mexican artists with works that explore various issues, some of which are common between India and Mexico. As part of this, de la Torre's work, titled 69 Windows, is a video of a performance piece from earlier a comment on the seismic activity in Mexico.

However, de la Torre is using his time in India to work on the latest project where he has chosen to explore poverty

another common factor between his country and ours which he believes is more pronounced

in India.

When he experimented with the idea in Delhi earlier this month, he had "those moments that are the few joys of being a performance artiste", especially because performance art does not sell. In an instance, when he was walking through a neighbourhood, children started throwing stones at him. Maybe it was the pain that the mirror exerted on his shoulder, but the Buddhist artiste felt like he was experiencing what Christ might have when he carried the cross. "I am not Catholic, but I grew up in a Catholic country so there is some context. It was a lot to do with the moment, it was so powerful that I started crying," says de la Torre who has shown his work in 17 different countries.

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