Nithya Iyer is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher of South Indian Tamil-descent. Raised in Melbourne, Australia, she currently resides in Lisbon, Portugal. Her practice dialogues between written, embodied and visual inquiries that explore alternative modes of sense- and meaning-making as a means of exploring alterity, intersubjectivity and decoloniality. With a focus on cumulative and iterative projects that span solo and group performance through to experiential, participatory installation, writing and voice, Nithya seeks to articulate generative modalities of arts practice as means of both research and form, attempting to disrupt traditional parameters of aesthetics and performance through the enactment of ambiguous territories.
Nithya was trained for 12 years in the forms of Bharatanatyam and Odissi at the Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Indian Dance in Melbourne, Australia, where she later taught and performed as a senior ensemble member of the Jambudvipa Ensemble. She is a co-founder of interdisciplinary arts collective L&NDLESS with Devika Bilimoria and Luna Mrozik-Gawler, presenting several durational and participatory works across festivals in Australia. In January 2020, Nithya was invited to perform her debut solo work ‘Vengayam’ at Kampni Kutcheri in Bengaluru, India, by the esteemed Madhu Nataraj of Natya STEM Dance Kampni. The work – first shown at the Critical Animals festival as part of This Is Not Art in Newcastle in 2018, and subsequently at Bus Projects, Melbourne, Australia, – dissects the impact of migration and nationalism on individual identity with a particular focus on first-generation South Asian immigration to Australia.
Nithya arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, in March 2020 under the auspices of the Ian Potter Cultural Trust to complete a year-long residency project at the Hangar Centre for Artistic Investigation. Entitled ‘An Indefinite Series of Discontinuous Acts’, the project explored the apex of artistic investigation, phenomenological practice and academic research to ask: What is knowledge-making? How are alternative forms of knowledge validated into the formal research process? How can these processes re-envision knowledge-based hierarchies to challenge systemic dysfunctions? Working collaboratively with PhD researchers Zohar Iancu and Jad Khairallah (Universidade Catolica Portuguesa) the exhibition aimed to challenge traditional notions of both research and arts practice.
Concurrent to the themes of her residency project, Nithya was commissioned by the European Cooperation Funded 4Cs Project – From Conflict to Conviviality through Creativity and Culture, to facilitate a 3-day workshop at Appleton Box, Alvalade. ‘Notes from Atopia‘ centred on the existential atopia – or placelessness – ushered in under the isolation measures of pandemic restrictions. Employing the tools of phenomenological research informed by her Masters at the Melbourne Institute of Experiential and Creative Art Therapy, participants were guided through a series of solo and small group investigations in dialogue with an artefact of their choice that related to the period of the March COVID19 restrictions in Lisbon. The resulting digital archive can be found on the 4Cs website. A critical text regarding the subject matter of the workshop and the resulting findings will be published by the 4Cs in 2021.
Also in 2020, Nithya was commissioned by Luisa Santos, Ana Fabiola Mauricio and Miguel Palma to present a performance at the esteemed Nanogaleria, Alvalade. The work, LAZULI#002FA7, sought to question the complicated lineage of a colour commencing at Lapis Lazuli and eventually appropriated to ‘Yves Klein Blue’. Drawing on the work of Helena Almeida and the Anthropophagy Manifesto by Oswald de Andrade, the piece signals a new direction in her ongoing research regarding the use of the performative body as a tool of subversion, deconstruction and reconstruction.
All work on this website is the exclusive property of Nithya Iyer unless otherwise credited, © Nithya Iyer as covered by the Copyright Act 1968. Any publication of material on this website requires the express written consent of Nithya Iyer.
/TRAINING & EDUCATION
- Melbourne Institute of Experiential and Creative Art Therapy: Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice (Community Arts & Health); 2020
- RICE University, Texas USA: How to Read Texts, Summer School with Professor Timothy Morton, 2020
- University of Bologna, Italy: Atlas of Transitions Summer School 2020
- Deakin University, Melbourne: Cross-institutional study, Arts-based and Sports-based Approaches to Community Development, 2019
- Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Classical Indian Dance, Melbourne: Bharatanatyam & Odissi Dancer & Teacher; 2005-2016
- Jambudvipa Association for Indian Arts: Chair and Ensemble Performer; 2014-2017
- Monash University: Bachelor of Arts (Politics & International Relations)/Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting & Finance); 2004-2008
- University of Liverpool: ERASMUS Program; 2004
- MacRobertson Girls High School: VCE, 2000-2003
/VISUAL ARTS & INSTALLATION
- An Experiment in Intervals – II: Video & photograph exhibited at Marvila Art District as represented by Movart, Lisbon, 2021
- An Indefinite Series of Discontinuous Acts: Research-based exhibition presented after a year-long residency at the Hangar Centre for Artistic Investigation, Lisbon, alongside collaborators Zohar Iancu and Jad Khairallah, 2020
- Liminal Mudra: The Un-Appropriated Hand: Video art piece presented at Sangam Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora, 2019
- Book of Dream, The Great Wall of Books: Facilitated community arts project as part of Well Productions Inc (AD Dario Vacirca) for Falls Festival, Lorne, Australia, 2018
- Body/Wall_Encounters: Video art component of Masters research on body and architecture, Melbourne 2018.
- Lord, have you forsaken me thus?: Video art project developed on-site with Art Ecology, Bangalore, 2018
- Now, And the Mind Tears: installation at Agency Agency, Nicholas Building Open House, 2017
- L(AZUL)I#002FA7: Performance and installation commissioned by Luisa Santos and Ana Fabiola Mauricio, Nanogaleria, Lisbon, 2020.
- Vengayam: Kampni Kutcheri series, Natya STEM Dance Kampni, Bengaluru – India, 2020
- Vengayam: Bus Projects, Collingwood, Melbourne, 2019
//solo performance installation
- H:O:M:E: Mapping Melbourne 2018
//durational live art work exploring memory and place performed as part of L&NDLESS arts collective.
- Vengayam: Critical Animals, This is Not Art Festival, Newcastle, 2018
//solo performance installation
- Syllables of Ritual/Resonant Lines: Mapping Melbourne & Queensland Poetry Festival, 2017
//duo and trio performance poetry and live art collaboration.
- MOKITA – A Secular Grieving Ritual: HillsceneLIVE, 2017
//trio durational, interactive and live art performance over eight hours regarding grief.
- Remedium: Melbourne Uni Mudfest, 2017
//trio immersive and durational performance installation over 4.5 hours across five rooms.
- In the Beginning there was Sound: Peril Magazine x AASRN Tenth Birthday, 2016
//solo performance, voice and body
- Rates of Exchange: Mapping Melbourne 2016
//one of five performers in group work choreographed by Dr. Priya Srinivasan
- H:O:M:E: Crack Theatre Festival (This Is Not Art) 2016
//trio experimental storytelling performance
- Black Bird: The Body Speaks Melbourne, 2015
//duo performance poetry
- ANDASHA: Regrowth Festival, Braidwood NSW, 2015
//one of five performers in roving performance on ritual.
- Hybrid Continent: RMIT University & Australian Multicultural Association, 2015
//one of four performers in group work choreographed by Kathleen Gonzalez
- Navagraha (‘the 9 planets’): Jambudvipa Association for Indian Arts, 2014
//one of 17 performers in group Bharatanatyam performance choreographed by Dr. Chandrabhanu OAM
- MARIAMMAN: Jambudvipa Association for Indian Arts, 2013
//one of 27 performers in group Bharatanatyam performance choreographed by Dr. Chandrabhanu OAM
- Darpana – the mirror of gesture: Jambudvipa Association for Indian Arts, 2013
//duo work in Bharatanatyam performance choreographed by Dr. Chandrabhanu OAM
- ‘Arangetram’, Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Classical Indiance Dance, 2010
/solo debut in feature-length Bharatanatyam work.
/WORKSHOPS, RESEARCH & FACILITATION
- AMBIGUOUS TERRITORIES: Paper presentation at the Convivial Cultures Summer School, Lisbon Consortium, 2021
- Alternative Knowledge in the Making – An Experimental Dialogue Between Academic Research & Artistic Investigation (Film): Presentation of research film at the Convivial Cultures Summer School with Jad Khairallah and Zohar Iancu, Lisbon Consortium, 2021
- Notes from Atopia: 3-day workshop at Appleton Box, Alvalade for the European Cooperation Funded 4Cs Project focusing on the knowledges gained from the existential placelessness of pandemic isolation. Lisbon, 2020
- Book of Dream: One-one and group arts-based interventions over three-day interactive installation at Falls Festival, Lorne, 2019
- Exploring Gesture: workshop presented at Yoga Health Mandala, Goa, India, 2018
- BON moving meditation: weekly workshops at Dancehouse, Melbourne and Regrowth Festival, NSW, 2014 – 2016
- Bharatanatyam dance teacher, Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Classical Indian Dance, weekly classes for children and adults five to 20 years old, 2014 – 15
- Towards Utopia – notes on dismantling in Medium, 2020
- Body:Wall in Island Island, 2019
- Peril magazine, Asian Australian Arts & Culture writer
Recovering the Indian-Aboriginal Connection: Serpent Dreaming Woman
Asia What? Literacy in Culture
Displacing Whiteness in the Arts: Discussion with Angharad Wynne-Jones, Arts House Artistic Director
Theatre of Justice? Tribunal by PYT
Macho Dancer: Review
Lukautim Solwara: Look Out for the Ocean: Review
Jaipur Literary Festival: Review
One Beautiful Thing: Review
Times Journey Through A Room: Review
Blaque Showgirls: Review
Old stories stir a new Melbourne: Kalakshetra
The laughable truths of racism in ‘Down Under’
Data Scapes and Digital Quests: Interview with Kynan Tan
Cut The Sky by Marrugeku: Review
Asian-Australian theatre baptizes Othello
Angkot Alien: An experience of cross-border relations
Homicidal Pacifist by Sameena Zehra: Review
Performative protest and the conflicted search for the Self in ‘7412km of Relations’
Wei Wei and Warhol: of Dissidence and Demigods
Neighbours at Big West Festival: Review
Experiments in performative healing: Review
Decadence by Batsheva Dance Company: Review
Grand Divisions at Melbourne Festival: Review
Water Pushes Sand: Review
Conversations with Devika Bilimoria
Sri Wanka: Review
Asian Ghostery: Review
In Plain Sanskrit: Review
- Scum Magazine, 2018, ‘Sub Lingual 1’