The Song of Sappho: An Illustrated Ballad

Project Proposal

The idea is to present Sappho as Rukmini Bhaya Nair saw her, and as I have grown to see her over the past few days; as this figure who caught onto and understood emotion, love, empathy. The contrast of her surroundings (ISIS infested Raqqa) as well as the nature of her object will help bring this message across in a much more powerful way. However, the objective of this piece is not to send a message across; it’s to cause questions to erupt. What role do these emotions we feel on a daily basis play in our lives ? What role does love play in a world consumed by violence, and greed ? Where does empathy fit into this vastly complex equation we’ve crafted for ourselves ? And what does a 2600 year old woman have to teach us about these things ?
Sappho, as the first writer of love poems, becomes a prime example of someone who prioritized their feelings over other aspects of life, who recognized that in a mortal life, where the end is always death, emotions may be the secret jewels given to us. While others around her felt as though this was a wasted emotion, not worth writing about, Sappho was the first one who considered that it might be important to bring her love
out through poetry. Thus, Sappho becomes a symbol of the person within all of us that’s constantly kept under the surface; buried beneath tons of defense mechanisms, always fighting to come out, always suppressed, and her attempts to keep this emotional side of her out, and wear her heart of her sleeve against all odds, is chronicled here.
The project questions further concepts, like the nature of femininity, of variable beauty standards, of ‘blind love’ as we put it. Further, it attempts to do it in a way that is effortlessly representative of the vast majority of LGBTQ individuals in India that feel threatened by section 377 of the Indian Penal code, which criminalizes homosexuality.
However, The project, above all, is a story of a woman who is out of place and time in every way possible, goes through some of the worst experiences anyone can, and still struggles through and lets her emotions shine, and that is the only thing that’s important.
The final form of the project will be in Sculpture form as well as book form, where the sculpture made out of P.O.P will encapsulate the book
The writing will be entirely in poetry form.
The audience is assumed to be anywhere between 15 to 80 years of age.

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