Nithya Iyer is an interdisciplinary artist and researcher of South Indian Tamil-descent. Her practice involves experimental psycho-spatial methodologies utilising text, performance, visual art and installation. The current themes of her work centre on migration, cultural displacement, and identity-formation with regards to corporeal, local and global conditions.
Her debut solo performance, Vengayam, was presented at Critical Animals, This Is Not Art festival, Newcastle in 2018, Bus Projects, Melbourne, in 2019, and most recently at the Kampni Kutcheri series under the auspice of the esteemed Madhu Nataraj of Natya STEM Dance Kampni in Bengaluru, India. The work dissects the impact of migration and nationalism on individual identity with a particular focus on first-generation South Asian immigration. Her video art piece Liminal Mudra: The Un-Appropriated Hand, premiered at the inaugural Sangam Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora in Melbourne in 2019 and seeks to question the casteist, patriarchal, colonial and nationalist undertones of the Bharata Natya form. Previously, Lord, have you forsaken me thus? was completed on residence at Art Ecology in Bangalore in 2018, deconstructing Bharata Natya dance formats against contemporary socio-religious critique. She has also presented an immersive text-based installation contrasting the scripture of the Avadhut Gita with reflections on the apathy of neoliberal materialism: Now, and The Mind Tears, at A Night at the Nicholas in 2017.
Nithya has written, co-devised and performed several works as part of the L&NDLESS arts collective which she co-founded with fellow Melbourne-based interdisciplinary artists Devika Bilimoria and Luna Mrozik-Gawler. These works included a four-hour durational performance regarding memories of place entitled H:O:M:E, commissioned as part of the Mapping Melbourne festival in 2018, an eight-hour durational live art work exploring grieving and ritual entitled MOKITA (HillsceneLIVE 2017) and Syllables of Ritual – a poetic performance discourse on contemporary faith and spirituality commissioned for the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2017.
Separately she has performed in works devised by the esteemed Dr. Priya Srinivasan and Arun Munoz (Rates of Exchange, Mapping Melbourne 2016), Colombian-Australian choreographer Kathleen Gonzalez (El Beso De La Tierra, Allianza Multicultura Australiana, 2015) and Melbourne choreographer Elena Osalde (360 Degrees Out of Stillness, Room To Move, Dancehouse, 2016).
As a passionate advocate for the development of intercultural arts platforms, Nithya was part of Dr. Priya Srinivasan’s team, alongside Dr. Nithya Nagarajan (Australia Council for the Arts) and Raina Peterson in the creation of the inaugural Asian Arts in Australia Conference, held in conjunction with AsiaTOPA – the triennial contemporary Asian Arts festival held in Melbourne in 2017. Previously, she Chaired the Jambudvipa Association for Indian Arts (JAIA) – founded by Dr. Chandrabhanu OAM – for three years, during which the ensemble of senior classical Indian dancers of JAIA performed three feature-length works funded by the Victorian Multicultural Commission and Darebin City Council. Nithya’s arts critique and freelance writing has also been regularly published in Asian arts and cultural literature magazine, Peril. Most recently, in 2019, she co-curated the BIRRARUNG:DADADESI event for the inaugrual Sangam Performing Arts Festival of South Asia and Diaspora with Vidya Rajan and Artistic Director Priya Srinivasan.
Nithya was trained for 12 years at the Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Indian Dance in the forms of Bharatanatyam and Odissi. She is currently undertaking her Masters in Therapeutic Arts Practice at the Melbourne Institute of Experiential and Creative Art Therapy.
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
- Deakin University: Cross-institutional study, Arts-based and Sports-based Approaches to Community Development, 2019
- Chandrabhanu Bharatalaya Academy of Classical Indian Dance – 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 (Finance); 2004-2008
- University of Liverpool: ERASMUS Program; 2004
- MacRobertson Girls High School: VCE, 2000-2003
/VISUAL ARTS & INSTALLATION
- 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
- 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.
/TEACHING & FACILITATION
- 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
- 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’