Hetain Patel took time out of his busy tour to talk to me about his influences as an artist and the inspiration behind his performance TEN.
For those who are unaware of your work, could you tell us a bit about your background?
Well, I’m a visual artist based in Nottingham. For the past 6 years I’ve been producing photography, video and live works, all shown in art galleries nationally and internationally. All the work takes a personal perspective to British and Indian identities as a starting point and then evolves to ask wider questions about language and identity in general. Also, in most of my work I use my own body as the site for these investigations. TEN is my first piece for theatre.
How did you become interested in photography and art? What made you choose to study Fine Art at university?
I’ve been interested in different forms of art all my life. I’ve always been good at drawing and trained in making photorealistic oil paintings during my A-levels. Then, as I took a natural progression into an Art Foundation course and a Fine Art degree, the scope of what art could be got wider and wider. Photography started as a way to document the more sculptural works I was making at uni then I got seduced by the visual quality of the medium itself.
Who or what would you say your main influences are?
There are so many from different places; Visual artists including Bruce Nauman, Bill Viola, to Ron Mueck, composers include Steve Reich, Nitin Sawhney, choreographers such as Jonathan Burrows, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Akram Khan and aesthetics from slick American music videos. Physically, I’m really taken with martial arts from the personality of Bruce Lee to the movement of Shaolin Monks. Also, much more mainstream elements from comedy like The Office, In-betweeners and older stuff from Eddie Murphy. Honesty in work really appeals to me.
What was the inspiration behind TEN?
It was a few things coming together:
It started as an experiment to make one of my video pieces into a live work. In the video I perform 4 parts myself (aided through video editing), whereas the performance asks what it means to ask somebody else to be you.
Secondly, it became an outlet to experiment with an aspect of my practice which hasn’t had a creative voice yet: writing. I loved writing this piece.
Also, I really wanted to share with an audience all the wonderful things I was getting from learning Indian Classical rhythm through my tabla drumming lessons.
The challenge with this last element, however, is that when I present Indian elements in my work it often puts up an exotic barrier. There are a lot of assumptions made about the authority I might have over these Indian elements or that I have a natural connection to them. One of the main purposes of TEN is to challenge this idea. Read More