George Chakravarthi: Thirteen

6 October 2011

Swan Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
11 November 2011 – 29 April 2012
Private view: 6-8pm, Friday 11 November 2011
Admission free

Thirteen is a newly commissioned photographic installation by award-winning London based artist George Chakravarthi. Specifically conceived for the RSC's Swan Room, the works on show portray thirteen of Shakespeare's tragic characters all of whom meet their ends through suicide. Created as a series of powerful self-portraits embedded in light boxes, Chakravarthi assumes the roles of some of Shakespeare's most celebrated yet doomed characters: Brutus, Cassius, Eros, Goneril, Mark Antony, Othello, Timon, Lady Macbeth, Portia, Ophelia, Cleopatra, Juliet and Romeo. George Chakravarthi opens in the Swan Room, Royal Shakespeare Theatre on 11 November and admission is free.

Chakravarthi says of the project: 'The portraits are multilayered and imbued with texture, created to present my vision of each image and character, revealing the beauty and anguish found across Shakespeare's tragedies.

'This subject seemed to me a fertile and contemporary territory for exploration, especially in the context of our recent and current political history and the direct connection to Shakespeare's representation of death as an act of courage, passion and honour.

'Whilst I don't advocate unnatural, untimely death of any living being for any purpose, I am interested in the value and expediency one gives to one's own life and beliefs; this, it's evident, is a recurring theme in Shakespeare's plots and very relevant to the cultural and political, post 9/11 climate we live in today.'

Using his own image as a canvas, Chakravarthi worked with the RSC costume department to create basic palettes for each character. He assembled key pieces of costumes for each character, with the aim of finding as much drama in the costumes as there is in the texts. Having been photographed in character, Chakravarthi layered each shot with textures and surfaces. He then created seemingly veiled images which give a sense of distance between the figure and the viewer.

The resulting collection of jewel-like images embedded in light boxes in the dark space of the RSC's Swan Room reference ideas of tombs and monuments to the heroes and heroines of William Shakespeare.

About George Chakravarthi

George Chakravarthi (b.1969) was born in New Delhi, India and moved to the UK at the age of ten. Most of his work explores ideas of 'selfhood' and deconstructs socially accepted definitions of gender, sexual and racial identity within live, photographic and video performances. A multi-disciplinary artist he draws inspiration from cinema, art history, public and private spaces, and from collective social histories. He has performed and exhibited nationally in venues including The Site Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, and internationally, Mousonturm - Germany, Tilburg Dance Academy - The Netherlands and The Queens Gallery - India. He has been has been commissioned by the BBC, Artangel, INIVA, Arts Council England, The National Review of Live Art and The British Council. He trained at The University of Brighton, The Royal Academy of Arts and The Royal College of Art where he finished his MA in 2003. He was 'Thinker in Residence' at The Live Art Development Agency and lectures at The University of Brighton. Chakravarthi lives and works in London.

More information is available at

About RSC Exhibitions

The programme aims to create imaginative opportunities and fresh perspectives that explore and explode the work of the RSC. The new strand of work engages audiences outside of their experience of watching a production on stage, opening up the creative process and encouraging new ways to participate. RSC exhibitions take place in two dedicated spaces in Stratford's Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the Swan Room and the PACCAR Room, and appear as interventions around the building.

Listings details for George Chakravarthi:
11 November 2011 – 29 April 2012
Swan Room
Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 6BB
Tel: 0844 800 1110
Exhibitions open daily from 9am –10pm, and from 10am-5pm on Sundays

For further press information and images, please contact Alison Wright,
E: or T: 01608 811 474 or M: 07814796930

For the RSC contact Dean Asker, Press and Communications Officer, or T: 01789 412660 or M: 0778 9937759

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