Nine Times Nine

During her six months residency in Delhi, Dutch sculptor and performing artist Mirjam Spoolder found herself absorbed by the number nine. Not only are there nine wings/petals and nine water basins in Delhi’s lotus-shaped Baha’i Temple, or the nine animals which together, constitute the holy animal Navagunjara; even the city of Delhi itself is divided into nine districts. 

Fascinated by the cultural differences and the impact of chaos into the life of a Middle European individual, she began to materialise the immaterial by recalling the craft she had learned as her first, tailoring. This nonuply of the districts of Delhi turned into photographs of the cartographic contours, then into patterns on silk, the way a tailor would make them. These were subsequently hand-dyed and finally worn for the performance in Delhi by nine artists. 

Nine dances, too, derive from the Indian musical and performing tradition within which the different times of the day are assigned a different dance, musical scale, colour and god; and in the dance, a different emotion. Likewise, Spoolder’s performance refers back to the structure of nine, as in nine Indian gods, nine districts of Delhi, nine emotions and classical dances, and also the nine animals making up the Navagunjara. This holy ‚composite‘ animal, she interprets not merely as a manifestation of Vishnu, but as a metaphor on a global level of all cultures and all individuals coming together. Both the dances and the accompanying music bring in contemporary modernity and Western influences to add to the Indian tradition: Spoolder worked with a musician/music producer, Hemant Chakraborty, who processed one minute of each of the nine dances, turning them into a DJ set of sorts, nine minutes long. 

Nine-Times-Nine is a very comprehensive work of art, truly multimedia, and it manages to expound many things about, both the artist’s background as well as experiences and new insights she absorbed in India.