Shanti Paz, Bangalore
Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Shanti Paz on the True Self
Video, 6:20, 2014
2014 - (ongoing)
As a character, the fictional Shanti Paz is a crack at examining a sense of individualism and triumphalism that is uniquely American. When we culturally lose track of our own religions, political systems, and so on, we begin reaching to other systems for guidance. For example, many Westerners, like Shanti Paz herself, have taken over or appropriated elements of a traditionally Eastern spiritual practice and are serving as modern-day “gurus” or life coaches in hopes of helping us arrive at enlightenment. However, her perspective is binary, and therefore, blind in a way. While embodying a self-less meditator, Shanti is entitled and unwilling to ask for permission. The tension within one person trying to embrace spiritual completeness renders her completely unqualified.
In a similar vein, there is a disconnect between what we imagine to be the Eastern approach to shedding one’s ego and the Western focus on building it up. This is exceptionally complicated as a female studying these traditions, in that the contemporary voices telling us to to “lean in” and build up ego are louder than ever.
In most of the performances thus far, Shanti Paz is in some sort of crisis. She becomes less of a model of spiritual enlightenment, and more a model of general unawareness.