MGandhi Chakrabarti completes the reenactment of Gandhi’s 1930-31 prison term post-Salt March in Second Life on January 26th, 2010.  To celebrate his release I’m planning a two-tiered event.  First will be three live, “hootenanny” concerts featuring live, voice chat singing of songs of freedom and protest – all taking place on a festival concert stage currently being created inside Gandhi’s prison compound in SL. There are three scheduled sets on the 26th, 10am, 6pm and 11pm SLT (Pacific Daylight Time).  I am currently working on making available a live stream of these events – visit the blog for the gg hootenanny for further info:  http://gghootenanny.blogspot.com

The second part of this event is global call for gamers and residents of online communities to singalong in their particular online environments!  This is a “global gaming singalong” – thing Nam June Paike’s “Global Groove”…

Visit the blog for the event for further info:  http://gghootenanny.blogspot.com

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I’ve now been with MGandhi in his jail cell since May 5th, 2009.  I have been with him most days for at least one to several hours each day.  On July 4th, Indepedence Day, I began a performative reading that evolved from the experience of returning Gandhi to Second Life for his post-Salt March jail sentence as imposed by the British in 1930.  Twitter Torture was conceptualized during the performance of the first torture memo in Second Life on July 4th – this particular reading took place over the course of 6 hours – upwards of 25 SL residents came and went during this performance.  Having very recently joined Twitter just prior to the reading I thought, wouldn’t it be a good thing to expand the possible audience for these readings.  As such, there have been numerous uses of Twitter from Second Life.  I am using a free application, TwitterBox, developed by Ordinal Malaprop.  It was a simple step to send my Twitter feed to Facebook.

This work is a conscientous experiment – both in Twittering the memos and in placing Gandhi in prison in SL.  After wandering freely in Second Life last year, I’ve had many requests to bring Gandhi back to SL.  I’ve done so, albiet briefly – yet largely came to the conclusion that I could not do so without the treadmill that I used to walk Gandhi for 240 miles.  At some point, the notion of placing Gandhi in jail, confining him in SL as he was confined in RL in 1930 just made sense – it is a continuation of the Salt March reenactment while also serving as a different kind of durational, mixed-reality project.  I am not imprisoned in real-life as Gandhi is in Second Life – this is of course the primary difference between the imprisonment and the march.  This work is also an explicit tribute to the work of Tehching Hsieh.

The reading of the torture memos came to me as a concept while being with Gandhi in SL in jail – I began to think about what I could do that would be a meaningful way to pass the time other than the usual interactions with passersby.  There is something, I hope, deeply poetic about having a representation of Mahatma Gandhi reading what are some of the most shameful documents ever written by representatives of my government.  The torture memos bring into harse reality the banal yet terrifying thinking of those trying desperately to justify torture.  Having these words go from Gandhi to Twitter and Facebook adds two distinct, social media platforms to the mix.  I’ve been reading various texts into computer games for several years now as interventionist performances – migrating this type of work into the social media world seesm like a logical step.  The work exploits the interconnected nature of contemporary media to create what I intend as a droll, verbatim recitation – a type of temporary re-publishing if you will – of these memos which catapulted into the public consciousness then largely dissappeared as efforts to “focus on the future”, to quote President Obama.

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Gandhi in Prison – A Performative Reenactment in Second Life

Twitter Torture

May 5, 2009- January 26th, 2010

MGandhi is currently in prison This reenactment commenced on May 5th of 2008 to coincide with the 79th anniversary of Gandhi’s post-Salt March imprisonment by the British in 1930.

I am in the midst of presenting an ongoing, durational reenactment and performative reading in Second Life, Twitter and Facebook. MGandhi is presently online 24 hours a day in his cell for a 9-month reenactment of Gandhi’s 1930 post-Salt March jail sentence.  I am inhabiting MGandhi daily to interact with visitors and to engage in a performative reading of the recently released and now infamous Bush-era Torture Memos. “Twitter Torture”, as commenced on July 4th, 2009, is a durational, performative reading by MGandhi of the torture memos. The live readings performed in Second Life are fed live, to my Twitter and Facebook updates.

MGandhi will be released from prison on January 26th, 2010.

This work is a continuation of the “Salt Satyagraha Online: Gandhi’s March to Dandi in Second Life” which took place from in the Spring of 2008 wherein I walked my avatar throughout Second Life using a treadmill converted for use in cyberspace. DeLappe/MGandhi walked 240 miles over the 78th anniversary dates of the Gandhi’s Salt March.

Gandhi in prison in Second Life: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Odyssey/76/12/22
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Twitter: @josephdelappe
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I’ve built a third 17′ cardboard Gandhi with the able assistance of the students and professors of Academie Mechelen that is just going on display in Mechelen Belgium as part of the city wide exhibition project presented by MuKHA (Contemporary Art Museum, Antwerp) entitled “All that is Solid Melts into Air”.


The Gandhi statue will be on display from March 21st through June 21st, 2009 at the Academie Mechelen.

Gandhi with visitors to the opening.

Gandhi with visitors to the opening of the Third Guangzhou Triennial.

Just recently I returned from a rather extraordinary experience building the second 17′ cardboard Gandhi for the Third Guangzhou Triennial at the Guangdong Museum of Art which runs from September 6th through November 16th, 2008.  The theme for the Triennial is Farewell to Post-Colonialism, which is reflected in the strong conceptual and theoretical basis of much of the work in the show.  Here is a link to a good overview of the exhibition recently posted on Rhizome.org by Claire Louise Staunton.  I had been invited to be in this international exhibition towards the end of my residency period at Eyebeam in NYC this past Spring.  The curators preferred to build a new cardboard Gandhi rather than ship the one I built in NYC – in part due to the expense but more so that much of the work in the exhibition was to be manufactured in total or in part on site.

I traveled to China for the first time three weeks prior to the opening of the exhibition September 6th.  I stayed for one week to get the figure started and to train the workers on how to proceed with the build.   The original build of the first Gandhi sculpture took just about 6 weeks of 6 days-a-week, 8-10 hour days during my residency at Eyebeam, I had the able assistance of two part time interns, essentially a few days of help a week.  For this build, all was to be completed in under 3 weeks time with my time limitted as I was able to be in China for just under 2 weeks total.   After the first week of construction I returned home to Reno for the first week of my semester teaching duties at the University of Nevada, Reno, and to take one of my twin daughters off to her first year of college (Yale no less, her sister is at Harvard – proud papa indeed!).

I flew straight from Hartford, Conneticut all the way back to Guangzhou for the final week of construction and installation of the remaining work.  During my absence, the workers basically completed the interior structure for the figure which required a bit of tweaking to get everything to fit together properly.  It was amazing to work with a crew that ranged between three and seven helpers to complete the figure in this short period of time, non of whom spoke English save for one or two of the student volunteers.  Fortunately each artist was assigned an assistant/translator who was with me throughout the construction phase of the project.  We worked like crazy the last week of the installation and all came together very well – this in spite of the mandated work schedule of the museum staff – they come in at 9am, work until 11:30am, take a 2.5 hour lunch, come back and work until 5pm.  Thus a 5.5 hour workday!  Can’t beat that but it certainly made the build rather interesting considering my impulse is to work through lunch into the evenings, etc..  Thankfully, once the figure was in the actual space of the museum the artists were allowed to work into the evenings on their various projects.

The figure has a slightly different pose from the first Gandhi and somehow a more pronounced smile than the one first show at Eyebeam.  😉

Here I am with the 17' cardboard Gandhi built for the Triennial.

Here I am with the 17' Gandhi along with the other works from my contribution to the show.

The museum printed up 8 very large format prints of screenshots from the Salt March reenactment in Second Life, these looked great as you can see above, truly complimenting the scale of the figure. I also showed the small, 8″ white Gandhi figure and a new, 15″ Gandhi figure that I treated with genuine gold leaf – both of these sculptures were created using the rapid prototyping, 3-D printer at Eyebeam.  This is the first showing of the gold leaf figure which I completed after my return to Reno.

White Gandhi figure with the Gold Leaf Gandhi in the background.

White Gandhi figure with the Gold Leaf Gandhi in the background.

Also being shown at the Triennial is a short video documentary of the Salt March reenactment, the projector is mounted inside the wood pedestal holding the Gold Leaf Gandhi and projected upon the wall.

Gold Leaf Gandhi with video projection.

Gold Leaf Gandhi with video projection.

The remainder of this post will be a number of pictures of the Gandhi work and the crowds that attended the opening of the Triennial. Sad to say I left China the next morning.  I was very pleased with the exhibition – the Gandhi work was featured in what is arguably the best gallery in the entire museum, room #5, a massive space with high ceilings.  I was showing with other large scale work done by some fantastic artists – will go more into detail on the other works in the show in my next posting.

Gandhi at the opening.

Gandhi at the opening.

The Second Life screenshots with a visitor to the opening.

The Second Life screenshots with a visitor to the opening.

The three Gandhi figures.

The three Gandhi figures.

Gandhi as viewed from across the gallery through the work of Chinese artist Shao Yinong

Gandhi as viewed from across the gallery through the work of Chinese artist Shao Yinong

These past few weeks have been very busy – I posted an “instructable” on instructables.com on how to build a 17’Gandh avatar that has been very well received.

I was also invited to post some writing about the Gandhi reenactment work on Augmentology.com. (part 1, part 2). The first two parts of a three part series on the entirety of the Gandhi projects, from concept to performance to artifacts and objects is now available to peruse. Part three will be posted this Friday, July 25th.

Here are some images of the completion and exhibition of the 17′ cardboard papercraft Gandhi and the tiny 8″ reproduction created using 3-D rapid prototype printing technology.  The exhibition “Tourists and Travelers” is up at Eyebeam from June 21st through July 19th, check it out! Nice Rhizome.org posting about it today fyi:


I will be posting more images soon!

Below – Treadmill Installation from the reenactment re-installed showing the footsteps video and the new stop action piece compiling over 6000 screen shots taken to document the entire march through Second Life, one taken every 60 seconds. Video of the install will be up soon!

Treadmill re-installed with stop action video.

MGandhi in cardboard using Pepakura papercraft techniques on a large scale, same size as Michaelangelo’s David!

17\' Cardboard Gandhi 2008

8″ Rapid Prototype 3-D Polymer Print of the MGandhi avatar from Second Life.


Final stage of assembly of the giant Gandhi, just after attaching the head.

Final assembly.