Siyapaa: Creating Radical Punjabi Feminist Formations in Performance
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Siyapaa is a Punjabi mourning ritual, often performed by women following death with inter-class, inter-caste, and inter-religious dimensions. Connotations of the term have shifted and siyapaa is often translated to mean ‘problem,’ or ‘trouble’ in contemporary contexts, at the erasure of its earlier meaning. The project is a recuperation of siyapaa, a return to its gendered agency; an assimilation of personal memory archives and contemporary representations. It takes the form of a performance-lecture and video that motions towards the future of siyapaa in a technology-mediated environment while maintaining a discourse of its embodied experience as a gathering. This performance metamorphosizes the tradition to objects, sounds, and images engaging the body as a whole. We question the socially learnt performance of mourning and its instructional and procedural nature as embodied in gestures of mourning, the beating of the chest and the lament/wail, through the poetics of the absurd and futile.