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Pickle Factory presents
CONTAGION: Performance, Space, Community
September 25 - October 17, 2020
- Aopala Banerjee

August 31, 2020

Covid-19 has disconnected us physically, making contact a dangerous act, marred with suspicion — an absence, that has made us realise the privilege, power and desire of public assembly. These tactile, visceral and sensorial aspects that are central to the live performance experience, is fundamental to the live performance experience.

CONTAGION: Performance, Space, Community, is a series of 8 curated conversations, about the act of gathering and assembly and re-imagines performance spaces and experiences of tomorrow by underscoring how live performance is vital for society’s health. In this partnership between Pickle Factory Dance Foundation, Kolkata, Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata and Offbeat CCU, Kolkata, we ask what makes gathering vital, live experience irreplaceable and performance contagious. Open to all, we welcome anyone remotely curious about performance, city space, culture or anything to do with community and an empathetic human society. A hub for dance-movement practice, discourse and presentation, Pickle Factory is proud to present the series which is tied to our big dream of setting up a permanent repurposed performance space in the architecturally textured fabric of Kolkata, for artists to explore and communities to gather. We hope this series will help us imagine what our space needs to be for tomorrow’s artists, without invalidating, forgetting or replacing those of yesterday.

Trapped between the questions, what we’ve lost and what we’ve learnt, from our denied need to gather for constructive, compassionate action and what is to come in the future, our sessions started with an act of virtual assembly, where we pondered upon what happens to the transformative energy of our collective power and what becomes of those special ephemeral experiences occurring only when people come together in time and space.

Our project launch brought the dance community together in a creative use of the virtual screen and showcased live performance. The program began with Vikram Iyengar, Director,  Pickle Factory, along with Sharvari Sastry and Christophe Knoch who have conceived and curated the project, explaining to us the impulses behind the project. We were also joined by Friso Maeker, Director of Goethe Institut- Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata and Meghdut Roy Chowdhury, Founder and Chief Curator of Offbeat CCU.

CONTAGION will see 8 online sessions that are titled:

Come Together Right Now! which investigates what it means to participate in and create a collective presence. What are those special ephemeral experiences that occur only when people come together as doers and watchers in the same time and space?

Going Live explores how performance connects the social, the political and the human. And asks why we need it.

Plagues, Pandemics and Performance confronts the new realities resulting from this pandemic and seeks to learn from the past plagues and how we can reimagine contagion.

Custom Made, studies the evolution of our rituals, norms and customs of coming together for performance and how they evolve, as well as how we value, embrace and discard them.

The Desire to be Infected explores the notion of infection as incidents of creative transmission, between and within bodies, spaces, and communities, trying to understand which emerge or leave.

In Community Catalysts we look at the evolution of communities, around spaces for performance and how performance spaces became nodes of cultural, economic and sociopolitical conversation and action, in India and abroad.

Lockdown Learnings will ponder upon the learnings of the previous sessions with Kolkata, centred in the discourse, what to take forward and what to leave behind and how it should change. A session that brings together a panel of artists and administrators of performance venues, we discuss how the arts responded to the pandemic, both practically and philosophically, and how we could move live experience forward.

Pickle Factory: Recipes for the Future tries to curate a working blueprint for a venue, bringing together a group of influential and far-thinking people from various backgrounds.

Spread across four weekends (Friday and Saturday), the series has participating  speakers from India, Bangladesh, Wales, Scotland, Poland, Germany, Burkina Faso, Chile and Australia, with names such as Ratna Pathak Shah, Shona McCarthy, Samik Bandopadhyay, Sunil Shanbag, Kapila Venu, Firenza Guidi and many more.

As artists, only left with our imagination, let us rediscover the spaces around us, in the hope of a gathering and coming together for our shared feelings and expressions.

We'd also invite you to our Facebook group, the Pickle Factory Cafeteria, for discussions on these themes and more. Registrations to the series opens on the 2nd of September at We hope you will join us!


Primarily trained in dance, Aopala Banerjee has a multitude of interests, spanning many disciplines, especially those of films, performances and environmental activism. She is currently part of a film crew in Dung Beetle Films based in Kolkata.

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