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Pankaj Tiwari


Report for the SPIELART working scholarship

Artist and curator Pankaj Tiwari gives us an insight into the working processes of his residency project TENT and the participatory performance installation PAPERPLANES – two long-term projects he worked on during his SPIELART scholarship 2022.


“One day [...] I was fully asleep [when] I saw a few important people come into my dream. They told me that, from the next day, all the institutions in Europe will change. I trust important people. So, [w]hen I woke up, I started saying to others, that from today the institutions have changed. People started laughing at me, questioning me, how will they be changed and why should they change?“ – Pankaj Tiwari

TENT: A SCHOOL OF PERFORMATIVE PRACTICES is a temporary mobile institution, which invites four artists from diverse backgrounds to live and work together. The location of the two-week residency is Amsterdam. During the stay, there is the possibility of a sharing meeting about the project and several public dinners.

In essence, my goal with the project is to reach out to those artists who cannot afford to participate in the established European institutions due to financial, socio-cultural, and bureaucratic constraints. TENT creates a space for artists to negotiate and coexist within a structure that allows them to strive for equality without institutional hegemony.

It reflects upon the voices of outsiders and examines the response of the power to it. TENT accommodates and facilitates these voices.

Banyan, a tent

I see Banyan as a metaphor for the SCHOOL OF PERFORMATIVE PRACTICES and its structure. Banyan is a tree with very deep roots. It throws its seeds around on its own and sometimes it goes into big old structures or buildings, grows in them, and even breaks these structures. The tent is a central place in my project. It resembles this tree in its structure.

Questions from the practice of the project

What are the changes we look forward to? Within the structure of existing institutions, can we really support the changes we are aspiring for over the years? Is it possible for an institution to be free of the often limiting and dehumanizing white gaze? What will it look like? What will be the practices of the new institution?

© Suraj Tiwari
© Suraj Tiwari
© Suraj Tiwari


“The Spoke of the wheel was broken, I saw only moving wheels,
Now it’s stopped, I am walking …”
(From writings of PAPERPLANES)

PAPERPLANES is a participatory performance installation that confronts western audiences with the ethics of flying in a globalized world. The poetries and stories are political reflections about climate change and the relationship between the West and the global South, about diverse realities. The airplane, for example, has become a symbol of shame and environmental pollution; on the other hand, it is a vessel of dreams. Who is allowed to fly, and whose dreams must remain on the ground?

Together with the audience, PAPERPLANES crafts a future; forgotten, mutated, and eaten by the capitalist structure of the west and vomits out seeds of hope and solidarity.

© Pankaj Tiwari

In the context of the project, I want to attempt to fold 15.000 paper planes, as that is the amount of money one needs in their account to get a visa to Europe.

PAPERPLANES will be shown as part of this year's SPIELART Theatre Festival in Munich.

About Pankaj Tiwari

Born in Balrampur (India) and living in Amsterdam, Pankaj Tiwari is an artist and curator. He works as an artistic director of festivals and performance collectives and was co-curator for Gessnerallee Zürich from 2020-23. In his work, he uses theatre, food, and agriculture as a medium for community building. Currently, he runs Current: a Space, Amsterdam.

SPIELART working scholarship 2022

Due to the large number and diversity of extraordinary applications for the residency program in cooperation with Artist in Residence Munich: Villa Waldberta, City of Munich, we decided to award further working scholarships in the context of SPIELART. These remote scholarships were accompanied and mentored by us. One of these fellows, along with the artists Angelinah Maponya and Rajesh Nirmal, is the artist and curator Pankaj Tiwari.