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Trimukhi Platform is a 11 years old Santhal/Bengali/French organisation dedicated to produce contemporary arts forms (performing arts, sound, visual and video arts), build bridges between different human worlds and stimulate the invention of original thought. It was founded in West Bengal, India, by 18 families from the tribal Santhal village of Borotalpada, a social facilitator from Kolkata and an out-of-the-ordinary French theatre director and philosopher residing in India. Amongst the 12 members of the directive bureau, the youngest is now fourteen years old and the oldest is 46 years of age: they take collectively all the decisions. So far they have organised 7 Night of Theatre festivals, staged 11 theatre-dance- video performances, set up 5 sound installations happenings, showcased 4 photography exhibitions, collaborated in 3 art installations and published 3 issues of Fabricate (Fabric of ) Arts • Fabrique de l’Art. They have invited to work with them artists and philosophers from Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Holland, India, Japan, Mexico, Spain and South Africa.
“We Are What We Do” (extracts) • Manasi Shah • The Telegraph 17/03/2019
Jean-Frédéric Chevallier co-founded Trimukhi Platform. “In India, my intent was not only to do things with people in remote villages but also bring people from the city to the villages,” he says. “It is not social work,” Chevallier is quick to clarify without the asking, “because we do not pretend to help anybody. Everything is to produce high-quality art.” […] Samantak Das, who teaches at Kolkata’s Jadavpur University, is a Trimukhi regular. In his opinion, what makes the performances “fascinating” is that “there is no talking down to individuals who are from an allegedly lower, primitive social group”. He adds, “This is more difficult to do than one imagines.” The performances are held in four languages — English, Santhali, French, Bengali — and at times in Hindi and Spanish too. “Sometimes we project subtitles, sometimes we decide not to. We do so to make people go on a sensitive journey,” says Chevallier. And Sukla, his wife and co-founder of Trimukhi Platform, adds, “The theatre we do is basically a work where you combine presences.” According to her, Trimukhi is that platform that gives space and possibility to bring people of different backgrounds, ages, countries together. And they choose to remain free from aim, free from frame of work, so they can be more open to contemporary and unexpected lively movements in arts practices. She says, “In a way, we have no plan but we have a place. We have a place and we are who we are: I am Bengali, the families in the place are Santhal, my husband is French. Our guests are from all over the world.”
TRIMUKHI PLATFORM COMMITTEE
Sukla Bar Chevallier was born in 1973 in India. After a Bachelor’s degree in Bengali literature, another in Commerce (University of Calcutta), she headed for 4 years a home for students from disadvantaged villages of Bengal, then, for 4 more years, a Non Formal Education and International Child Development Program in West Midnapur on alternative education for children from tribal areas excluded from the school system. She has also worked in Chicago (USA) in migrant children’s homes. She resumes her studies at Indira Ghandi University, New Delhi and obtains a Master in Social Work. The subject of his dissertation was “Tribal village organisation as a relay to social work”. Once Trimukhi Platform started, organisation she co-founded with Jean-Frédéric Chevallier and 18 families from the Santhal village of Borotalpada, her activities have steadily increased — for example: logistics manager for documentary and art films, “postmodern theorist” at an international conference, “warm facilitator” for creative workshops and socio-anthropological research as well as for rehearsals and art installations with Mexican, Colombian, French and Spanish artists, “designer” of sound installations and even “actress ” in two theatre performances: Nous n’habitons plus les paysages (France) and Per Ruptam Silvam (India). More formally, she is general secretary of Trimukhi Platform, producer of all the events and performing art works of the organisation, and co-responsible, with Motilal Hansda, of human relations in the village of Borotalpada. In 2016, she was invited to share her reflections on her life course in Quebec, Canada. She titled her lecture: From Social Work to Work for the Arts: Trimukhi Platform in India. She is also editor-in-chief of Fabrique de l’art magazine.
As Jean-Frédéric Chevallier was born in France in 1973, in other words, shortly after May ’68, he received an education that was stimulating to an extreme. While he has practically given up playing the guitar, painting with tea liquor, experimenting culinary combinations and constructing electronic robots, he continues directing dance-theatre performances (the last to date, in front of a majestic mud house recently built in Borotalpada village: Home Made Theatre); making film-essays (a Franco-Indian example: Drowning Princess, co-directed with French choreographer Maïa Nicolas – DVD L’Harmattan, 2009); designing video installations (for example, on the riverbanks of Québec: Try Me Under Water); writing books in French (the latest: Deleuze et le théâtre. Rompre avec la représentation, Les Solitaires Intempestifs, 2015), in Spanish (a Mexican example: El Teatro hoy : una tipologia posible, Paso de Gato, 2011) or in English and Bengali (The Fabric of The Arts • শিল্পের বুনন, to be published by Trimukhi Platform in 2020); occasionally spending a few days in the ecumenical community of Taizé; giving, from India to America, via Europe, conferences and lectures that he hopes are as stimulating as the education he received was; coordinating the Night[s] of Theatre, a contemporary performing art festival in Borotalpada tribal village in West Bengal. But when he needs to exude gravitas, Jean-Frédéric Chevallier introduces himself as theatre director and philosopher, holder of three master’s degrees and one PhD, two years lecturer at the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle in Paris and seven years professor at the National University of Mexico, and a resident of West Bengal, India since 2008, where he co-directs with his wife the non-profit organisation Trimukhi Platform and the bilingual journal Fabrique de l’art.
Sumita Besra, born in Borotalpada, is mother of a girl almost as active in Trimukhi Platform as herself. Her father, mother, 2 younger sisters and brother have also been involved in the organisation since a long time. Though Sumita has been helping with cooking for the whole team, cleaning and re-painting Trimukhi Cultural Centre in enumerable occasions, it is only since the second version of জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau that she had been really “on stage”. As a matter of fact, she is an extremely good performer, with both a deep and subtile way to be present. Once her husband gave his authorisation (which took a bit of time, she had to insist on it a lot), she jumped into Trimukhi Platform’s theatre works full heartedly: for the video shooting of Home Made Answers, then for the tour in New Delhi at French Institute in India on the occasion of Night of Idea 2019 and at Ashoka University on the occasion of the book launch of Fabrique de l’art n°3/4. Main actress on Home Made Theatre, first during Night of Theatre 11 and then at Vidyasagar University on another tour, she beautifully learned lines by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, helping to make the translation more evocative and, above all, more concrete, for the Santhal villagers. Her mother is very proud of her.
Dhananjoy Hansda is the first from Borotalpada village to be born in a nursing home. It was in 1997 and that’s why he was nicknamed “Doctor”. He participated as performer in Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, Serendipity, Aboard and, as team coordinator, in জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau and Home Made Theatre. He also actively participated in the construction of Trimukhi Cultural Centre and collaborated in the preparation 3 art installations with the Mexican artist Alejandro Orozco for Flying Bamboos and with the French Guy-André Lagesse for The Flip Flop Avenue and The Mighty Giants. He was in charge of the live video for Bachchader Experimentum as well as the video archives of Night of Theatre n°9 • La Nuit des Idées. He followed the Light & Sight 1, Light & Sight 2 and Light & Sight 3 photography workshops as well as the training sessions in arts production: Crash Courses 1, Crash Courses 2, Crash Courses 3 and Crash Courses 4. Since 2017, he is co-responsible with Sukul Hansda of Trimukhi Cultural Centre. He presented a solo photography exhibition on the occasion of Trimukhi Platform 10 years Anniversary Celebration. For his mid-term personal project, he plans to edit a video and photo documentary on Trimukhi Platform in the village and in the cities during the tours. Few months ago, Jean-Frédéric and Sukla helped him to get the approval from his parents so to be able to bring his girlfriend at home. For Night of Theatre 11 , his young wife helped him to decorate the walls of Trimukhi Cultural Centre.
Dhani Hansda was born in 1999 in Borotalpada. She has participated in the radio manoeuvre Psychogéöhörspiel II, the sound happening If Each Day I Love You More One Day Will I explode?, the theatre performances Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society and Monsoon Night Dream, as well as the night wandering Try Me Under Water. She was in charge of the lighting for Bachchader Experimentum and জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau dance-theatre-video performances. She attended the Light & Sight 1 and Light & Sight 3 creative photography workshops as well as the training sessions in arts production: Crash Courses 1, Crash Courses 2, Crash Courses 3 and Crash Courses 4. Resisting the temptation to get married too early, she has been producer assistant for Trimukhi Platform events since 2016.
Dulal Hansda was born in 2003, in the village of Borotalpada. He has participated in Bachchader Experimentum, Psychogéöhörspiel II, Niutèt Ria Saré, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau and Home Made Theatre. He took the movement and drawing workshop Creature of Flesh & Paper 1, the photography workshops Light & Sight 2 and Light & Sight 3 as well as all the training sessions the training sessions in arts production: Crash Courses 1, Crash Courses 2, Crash Courses 3 and Crash Courses 4. He was assistant director in 2016-2017 and he is now technician assistant for all the dance-theatre performances, specialised in adjusting the video projector and giving lights on the performers on stage.
Joba Hansda was born in 2001, in the village of Borotalpada. She has participated in Monsoon Night Dream, Per Ruptam Silvam, Bachchader Experimentum, If Each Day I Love You More, One Day Will I Explode ?, Psychogéöhörspiel II, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau, Janumjar Mantjanum, Yuten and Home Made Theatre; took the workshops Creatures of Flesh & Paper 1, Light & Sight 3, Crash Courses 2, Crash Courses 3 and Crash Courses 4 and collaborated in te organisation of Creatures of Flesh & Paper 2. She prefers to be an “actress” or a “dancer” to anything else. She is also in charge of the planning of the management committee.
Ramjit Hansda was born in 2002, in the village of Borotalpada. He has participated in Bachchader Experimentum, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, Psychogéöhörspiel II, জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau, Home Made Theatre. He attended the workshops Creatures of Flesh & Paper 1 and Light & Sight 3 as well as all the arts training sessions. He participated in the realisation of the workshop Creatures of Flesh & Paper 2. He focuses on contemporary dance, reason why he participated in the two choreographies by Japanese Ikue Nakagawa: Janumjar Mantjanum in Night of Theatre 10 and Yuten in Night of Theatre 11.
Surujmoni Hansda was born in 2001. She participated briefly in Monsoon Night Dream and much more deeply (as main actress almost) in Guignol’s dol and Bachchader Experimentum. She was involved also in the long shoot of the 9-track video shown in Try Me Under Water. For Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society and Try Me Under Water, in addition to intervening as performer, she was also co-director with Jean-Frédéric Chevallier. Then she continued as actress on জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau and Home Made Theatre. She has followed the double Creatures of Flesh and Paper workshop as well as three arts training sessions. She collaborated in the organisation of Creatures of Flesh & Paper 2 and she operated the light for Yuten in Night of Theatre 11. She prefers the choreographies of French Franck Michelletti to the theatre performances of Italian Romeo Castellucci, because, if both are excellent art works, Castellucci’s works bring too much sadness for her taste.
Salkhan Hansda was born in 1998, in the village of Borotalpada. He was in charge of lighting The Thing That Exists When We Aren’t There, জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau, participated in Per Ruptam Silvam, Serendipity, Bachchader Experimentum, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, Janumjar Mantjanum, Yuten and Home Made Theatre as well as in the construction of Trimukhi Cultural Centre and Flying Bamboo, The Flip Flop Avenue and The Mighty Giants art installations. He took Light & Sight 1, Light & Sight 2 and Light & Sight 3 photography workshops, the four training sessions in arts production and was involved in the organisation of Creatures of Flesh & Paper 2. If, during certain months of the year (when the cultural center is not in activity), he had before to go away go to work as a daily worker in a far away factory, it was to help his parents financially to finish building their new house… But as the last he did it (it was in Gujarat) he got tuberculosis, he is now counting and Trimukhi Platform tour across India for his pocket money — which is much healthier and makes him much happier.
Sukul Hansda was born in 1998, in the village of Borotalpada. He has participated in Bachchader Experimentum, Psychogéöhörspiel II, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, Niutèt Ria Saré, জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau and Home Made Theatre. He attended all the arts training sessions and the photography workshop Light & Sight 3. Since 2016, he is in charge of the electric installation for the activities and shows and he is, since 2017, together with Dhananjoy Hansda, co-responsible of Trimukhi Cultural Centre. He was also involved in the organisation of Creatures of Flesh & Paper 2. Drop out from school, he specialises in sound art: after collaborating twice with Canadian sound artist André Eric Létourneau (for Atang Daram • Psychogeohorspiel II and Niutèt Ria Saré), Sukul, started, at 21, proposing art sound pieces independently. Janga Da Saré is his first sound piece. It was showcased first on the occasion of Trimukhi Platform 10 Years Anniversary Celebration and then, in a longer version, for Night of Theatre 11.
Pini Soren was born in 2004 in Borotalpada village. If she is the youngest one in the team, she has nevertheless already participated in plenty of performances shows produced by Trimukhi Platform. The first was The Thing That Exists When We Are Not There by Mexican theatre director Hector Bourges, and then: The Thing That Exists When We Aren’t There, Per Ruptam Silvam, Bachchader Experimentum, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water and জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau. She took also two workshops, participated in a film and actively followed the four crash course training sessions on arts. In fact she was who motivated the other girls to participate in these sessions. Actress committed, with a presence of rare subtlety, she intends to work all her life on the stage.
SOME OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COORDINATION TEAM
Bhudray Besra was born in 1990 but not in Borotalpada village. If he was finally in charge of the Cultural Center for two years, it was because he felt in love with a girl from Borotalpada (Sumita, cf. above) whose father and sister had participated in Monsoon Night Dream. Bhudray was also a dramaturge and assistant director for Bachchader Experimentum. For Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society he took care of the biographical researches and for Night of Theatre n°9 • La Nuit des Idées, of the translation in Santhali of the philosophical capsules “what is the art?” and “what is thought? “. He also followed one of the photography workshop and all the training sessions in arts production. He has been giving coaching classes for a living, then cleaning fish in the city, then playing keyboard as a musician for local festivals and events. He loves to write and is happy that ten years ago mobile phones were not yet the norm, so he was able to conquer his wife by writing: “love letters is much better than phone conversations,” he says.
Chintamoni Hansda celebrated her fifteenth birthday on March 12, 2016 in the middle of a dry rehearsal. Her birthday was part of the programme and she shared her cake with the hundred and fifty spectators present at the event. She had started rather early: in 2008, she already participated in Monsoon Night Dream and in 2012 she danced for I Saw The World Resting Within Itself. She then performed in Bachchader Experimentum, Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society, Try Me Under Water, Aboard and জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau. She attended three arts training sessions as well as Creature of Flesh & Paper 1 and Light & Sight 3 workshops. She was involved in the organisation of Creatures of Flesh & Paper 2. During Trimukhi Platform’s theatre performances, she has been also responsible for launching sound and video tracks from the Apple computer. She has chosen to specialise on creative writing. For her mid-term personal art project, she opened a literary blog in Bengali. Then she run away to her boyfriend’s house and married.
Falguni Hansda lives in Borotalpada. A mother of three, she works as a day laborer and cook at the local primary school. She is Vice President of Trimukhi Platform. She participated, as a speaker, at the Preamble Seminar in 2011 and, as an actress, in Monsoon Night Dream in 2008-2009, in Guignol’s dol in 2012, The Thing That Exist When We Are Not There in 2013, Buru Jatra and Going Through This Place Now in 2017, Home Made Theatre in 2019. She took Light & Sight 1 workshop also.
Motilal Hansda is the husband of Falguni. He is the “Parani” of the village, which can be translated as: “responsible of keeping fluid and smooth the relationships between people”. For example, when a woman beats her husband or vice versa, Motilal is the one who takes care of the problem. Or well: when, during theatre rehearsal period, a Santhal ritual must be performed, it is also he who arranges time and / or space for ritual and rehearsal to both take place. He was a musician for Monsoon Night Dream, dancer on The Thing That Exist When We Are Not There, actively participated in the construction of Trimukhi Cultural Centre, followed two of the workshops of photography Light & Sight 1, Light & Sight 2 and took charge of the Santhali introduction to Night of Theatre n°9 • La Nuit des Idées. He is the most knowledgeable and wise man on the coordination team.
Kalicharam Hembrom lives in Borotalpada. Long ago, he married Mado, a that time, a young girl from Borotalpada. Unusually, he stayed in his wife’s village. Since then he is called by all “son-in-law”. He is a responsible and hard worker farmer and sometimes an actor too. He participated in the theatre performances Monsoon Night Dream and Guignol’s dol. In Trimukhi Platform coordination team, he is specially in charge of local administrative matters. He built a big house. In it, the artists from Europe, Asia and South America invited Trimukhi Platform get a room to stay. For each Nights of the Theatre, Kalicharam makes sure that, from sunset to dawn, the whole village is happy and in peace.
Gurubari Hembrom is Kalicharam and Mado‘s daughter-in-law. She and her husband (Kalicharam and Mado‘s son) are going nicely together — that is to say they are open, curious, lively and joyful together. Gurubari started to be more seriously involved in the activities during Night of Theatre 10 • La Nuit des Idées, participating in জল ই জীবন । La vie dans l’eau and reading the Bengali translation of two Indian philosophers statements about the notion of “flow of intensity” during a dance act by a Japanese choreographer… Then she continued with Home Made Theatre and it seems she will never stop. For Jean-Frédéric’s 45 years birthday she had the good idea of offering him an orange teeshirt.
Chandrai Murmu was born in 1990 in a Banthal village, but not Borotalpada, another one, located 200 kilometres southwest of Kolkata. A turbulent teenager, relentless against the smallest injustices, he managed to barely pass class 10 exam and then obtained a diploma of craftsman. He is often employed as a skilled laborer in factories or as a day laborer in the fields. He has been coordinator of Trimukhi Cultural Centre. In fact, it was his responsibility to organize the repair work of Trimukhi Cultural Centre after the passage of Hurricane Phaulin in 2013. He participated as a performer in I Saw The World Resting Within Itself (2012) by Mexican the director Hector Bourges and, with Jean-Frédéric Chevallier, in The Thing That Exist When We Are Not There (2013) and Per Ruptam Silvam (2014). He provided technical supervision for Night of Theatre 6, Night of Theatre 7 and Night of Theatre 8. During Night of Theatre n°9 • La Nuit des Idées, he was the technical assistant of Spanish choreographer Cuqui Jerez for Going Through This Place Now and Canadian sound artist André Eric Létourneau for Psychogéöhörspiel II. He followed the first Light & Sight photography workshop with Mexican artist Alejandro Orozco and three of the training sessions in arts production.
Chamru Soren was once a teaching assistant in Borotalpada, a musician (traditional harmonium, Santhal drums) and an actor (for the Santhal drama competitions that at that time were happening often), while remaining a part-time farmer. Since he married in 2009, he opened shop: he runs an oil stand in the surrounding markets. But before falling into commercial preoccupations, he was able to participate in Monsoon Night Dream, I Saw The World Resting Within Itself, at the first filming sessions of the video art that would ultimately give rise to Try Me Under Water, and contribute, through his volunteer work and knowledge to carve the earthen walls during the construction of Trimukhi Cultural Centre. Important to remember also: he was one of those, if not the one who first asked Jean-Frédéric Chevallier this question: “why not to build a cultural center?” His wife Sunita was able to follow the first photography Light & Sight 1. Both Sunita (as a dancer) and Chamru (as a musician) participated in Buru Jatra during Night of Theatre n°9 • La Nuit des Idées.
Girish Soren is from the Santhal village of Anlakara. He graduated in Arts and in Santhali. He was assistant to Jean-Frédéric Chevallier and Sukla Bar from 2008 to 2012, especially for Monsoon Night Dream, in Borotalpada and at Jadavpur University and EZCC in Kolkata, and for Guignol’s dol, showcased during Night of Theatre 5. He participated actively in the construction of Trimukhi Cultural Centre. He also was the anchor man for Night of Theatre 5, 6 and 10. He participated in the photography workshops Light & Sight 1 and Light & Sight 2. He has since got a government job as a rural policeman. He became father and asked Jean-Frédéric and Sukla to give name to the newborn. He continues to advise, with relevance and application, the coordination team.
Sumi Soren is Pini‘s elder sister. She participated in Tierra Roja during Night of Theatre 6, Bachchader Experimentum during Night of Theatre 8 and then in Kolkata, and in the dry rehearsals of Essay on Seasonal Variation in Santhal Society. Still, as her father became ill, and his elder brother was not too focused that much on working hard, she had to employed herself as a daily worker in a small local factory in order to help her family and, above all, to allow Pini to continue her actress adventure on stage. Recently Sumi run away to her boyfriend’s home which means, following Santhal tradition, that she married him. Her now husband’s family is nice, said her little sister Pini.
A total of eighteen families from Borotalpada and surrounding Santhal villages are members of Trimukhi Platform and, as such, take part in the organisation of the activities as well as in the decisions regarding which activities to organise: Bhudray & Sumita Besra, Jean-Frédéric et Sukla Chevallier, Delko & Kanai Hansda, Falguni & Motilal Hansda, Ganesh & Maloti Hansda, Parboti Hansda, Sita & Rotikanto Hansda, Kalicharam & Mado Hembrom, Sombari & Jogeswar Hansda, Tibru & Panmoni Murmu, Bosanto Soren, Chamru & Sunita Soren, Mulukchand & Monica Hansda, Panmoni & Phothoram Hansda, Chita Hansda, Subol & Fulmoni Soren, Ramchandro & Sunia Soren
SOME OF THE COLLABORATORS AND GUESTS SINCE 2008
Aopala Banerjee dancer India
Tania Barberán linguist and photographer Mexico
Gwenael Barraud professor of literature France
Somasree Basu ecologist India
Florence Bougnoux architect France
Hector Bourges theatre director Mexico
Nathali Buenaventura visual artist Colombia
Barbara Cassin philosopher and member of Académie Française France
Abraham Calvachi sound artist Ecuador
Virginie Corteval consul general France
Samantak Das professor of comparative literature India
Bertha Diaz essayist Ecuador
Sandra Gomez choreographer Mexico, Colombia
Élodie Guignard photographer France
Marc Hatzfeld anthropologist France
Vikram Iyengar choreographer India
Léo Jalais social worker France, India
Cuqui Jerez choreographer Spain
Anjum Katyal museographer and editor India
Dimple Kaur dancer India
Guy André Lagesse visual artist France, South Africa
Damayanti Lahiri pedagogue India
Fui Lee Luk translator and novelist Australia, France
André Éric Létourneau sound artist Canada
Arup Mahato choreographer India
David Mangin architect France
Patrice Maniglier philosopher France
Ikue Nakagawa choreographer Japan, Belgium
Julien Nénault essayist and photographer France
Agathe Nieto ethno-filmmaker France
Ruchama Noorda visual and performance artist Holland
Alejandro Orozco visual artist Mexico
Paola Ospina actress Colombia
Lorena Rojas dancer Mexico
Sunandan Roy Chowdhury publisher India
Andrés Solis sound artist Mexico
Rogelio Sosa sound artist Mexico
Damien Syed consul general France
Beatriz Vaca Domínguez economist of development Mexico