Patronage, Commodification, and the Dissemination of Performance Art: The Shared Benefits of Web Archiving

Abstract

Now that the Internet functions as a broadcasting forum, the “commodification” and marketing of indigenous performance art often takes place with no financial benefit to the performers. Therefore, scholars should work to ensure that traditional artists benefit from studies in “documentation” for the perpetuation of their livelihoods and cultural legacy. To help traditional arts survive, scholars need to create income-generating platforms in agreement with performance artists and transform archives into active fora for publicity and digital sales. This essay thus addresses the aesthetic and ethical dimensions of documenting oral performance on film, specifically with reference to performances of the epic of Pabuji in Rajasthan, India.

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Pabuji’s phad.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Gogaji transformed into a cobra bites Kelam (with Parvati Devi and Hari Ram).

Video: Elizabeth Wickett.

Harmal Devasi is propelled across the salty sea to Lanka by the blessing of Pabuji (with Patashi Devi and Bhanwar Lal (Pabusar).

Video: Elizabeth Wickett.

Patashi Devi Bhopi in Pabusar.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Man Bhari Devi Bhopi in Jodhpur.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Parvati Devi Bhopi in Jaisalmer.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Santosh Devi Bhopi in Jaisalmer.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Hari Ram Bhopa performing in Jaisalmer on the ravanhatta.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Sugana Ram Bhopa performing in Jodhpur on the ravanhatta during the performance of the epic.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Priest at Pabusar performing the rituals before the phad.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Santosh Devi Bhopi describes healing rituals during performance of epic in Jaisalmer.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

Bhanwar Lal reads the phad in Jaipur.

Photo: Elizabeth Wickett.

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