The Indian artist Nikhil Chopra has been widely acclaimed for his performances that use a repertoire of characters to unravel the complexities of colonial India and Britain, along with his own family history. For Coal on Cotton, Chopra is turning his focus to two materials that made Manchester supremely wealthy in the 19th century, and that continue to hold workers in modern slavery beyond Europe and North America.
Held over 65 continuous hours in the shell of the yet-to-be-completed Landscape Gallery at the Whitworth Art Gallery, which will open 24 hours a day for the show’s duration, Coal on Cotton will span centuries and continents. The performance will ask its audience to witness and reflect on connections between the lives of our forebears and ourselves, and on the actions that drive power and possession. In a gallery space engulfed by cotton, Chopra’s work will make connections between Mumbai and Manchester, cities sewn together through Britain’s imperial might.
Nikhil Chopra was born in 1974 in Calcutta, studied art at Ohio State University and now lives in Goa. His work Yog Raj Chitrakar: Memory Drawing VIII was part of Marina Abramović Presents… at MIF09.
Costume: Sabine Pfisterer
Commissioned and produced by Manchester International Festival
and Whitworth Art Gallery.