Attend the premiere of a VR documentary that reflects on an actor's experience with breast cancer
Attend the premiere of a VR documentary that reflects on an actor's experience with breast cancer through dance, poetry and performance art
"...How I can be me with a monster inside of me/ I am pieces and the whole is not guaranteed" goes the verse by actor Tatyana Kot, who sways between moments of fragility and resilience as cancer becomes a part of her existence. A camera placed on the ceiling in an examination room captures the narrow closed space, and as viewers explore the scene further in virtual reality, Kot can be spotted in the room piecing together the news she has just received. In another frame, she can be seen in the metro drawing up a list of errands that ends in "buy a puppy".
This intimate journey of the New York-based actor, dancer, and performance artiste became the theme for Normal Day, a virtual reality experience created by students of New York University's Tisch School of the Arts pursuing their masters. The experience will have its first public screening in Mumbai this weekend, which will be presented by Matterden CFC.
"What if virtual reality could be used to create something other than escapism or simulation? What if VR has the ability to evoke the deepest empathy towards the life of a fellow human?" say co-creators Natasha Babenko, Aayushman Pandey and Alexia Kyriakopoulou about the idea behind the documentary. And the medium of VR lends itself well to packing in emotional information "as we slow things down in it and give people time to appreciate the sense of space created," says Pandey, who is back in Mumbai after finishing his masters and will be present at the screening.
Elaborating on the title, Kyriakopoulou says, "The idea of 'normalcy' in our society is very contradictory. On the one hand, we live in a modern society where we see things constantly changing, people are being encouraged to speak up and a lot of issues that were considered taboo are now coming to the surface. On the other hand, there is still this unspoken rule that everyone has to act normal even if they are not actually feeling normal... We are always trying to project this fake perception that everything is perfect, especially in the space of social media where we are projecting our best selves."
While Normal Day has now entered the festival circuit, Babenko shares that the filmmakers plan to take it to cancer care facilities with an aim to bring a sense of hope and relief to people going through the same state as Kot. "As women, we experience the loss of our breasts as the loss of sexuality, being desirable and beautiful," says Kot. "It is not true. You are more than your breasts, or any of your body part."
On: March 10 and 11, 6 pm
At: The Bombay Art Society, KC Marg, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra West.
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