Pranita Nayar

With Rumi


The poetry of Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic Rumi (1207-1273) has for centuries influenced artists working in a variety of disciplines. Rumi’s lyricism and articulation of love and the divine serves as the basis for much Persian and Afghani music. “With Rumi” will explore how barriers in language can be reconceived through various modes of art and, more specifically, re-communicated through the human body. Pranita Nayar’s collaboration with Farah Salem’s manual designed calligraphy, animated text along with light projections will create movement inspired by the two women’s upbringing in Asian urban cities, Delhi and Kuwait, which have also been a fertile ground for cultural intersection, Sufi soundscapes, and the idiosyncratic curvature of Persian calligraphy. “With Rumi” will emerge from narratives of discrimination and healing from women of color, incorporating movement and projected animation.



Pranita Nayar is an Indian classical dancer, choreographer, company director, curator and producer, whose work has been embedded in Chicago’s dance community for over 30 years. She is currently Executive Artistic Director of Mandala South Asian Performing Arts, an arts and cultural organization that supports innovation within performing arts traditions. Over the last several years, Pranita has been developing methodology to modernize classical Indian dance. In 2016, she was recognized as a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist, where she developed a deconstructive process: Unwinding.

“Cultural traditions are like a flowing river, they are determined by the space and time they exist in. Sudden changes cannot be stable or solid; my trajectory has been a slow, brilliant burn.” 
~Pranita Nayar

Pranita Nayar

Farah Salem is an artist, activist, and art therapist from Kuwait, currently based in Chicago. Her studio practice is rooted in photography and expands into video, performance, fibers, light/projection, and installation. Working in both urban and natural landscapes, she uses these settings to engage in conversations with captured frames, performances, and installations. Through this conversational element, she attempts to capture the portals and spaces between two or more worlds. She questions the potential erasure of socio-cultural conditioning, focusing on the gendered nature of trauma as it is embedded within her experiences as an Arab woman. Her art making process engages personal memories, reflecting on present circumstances, and the stories of collaborating participants who have had similar experiences. She incorporates various cultural symbols to explore the politics of seeing and the roles of access, agency and power in the displacement of identity as a material.