It’s Growing On Me 2008
In January 2008 began Hetain’s longest performance work to date: Its Growing On Me. It documents an attempt to grow his facial hair into that of his father’s appearance as a fresh Indian immigrant to England in the late 1960’s. The process of this work lasted nearly four months and initially was shown as a three-screen time-lapse video installation. The footage shows the growth slow enough that it appears as a subtly changing photographic triptych rather than video. Here the hair growth goes beyond the stereotyped neat mustache and side parting, transforming the face into an identity that is as non-specific as the bald shaven head and face the video started with.
The process of growing the hair was carried out in Nottingham, England, not India. And Hetain received unexpectedly extreme reaction from the general public, often treated as if he had been wearing a fancy dress costume. This created a fascinating meeting point between his studio and personal life. Questioning the difference between his earlier body decorative works and this new hair growth piece, he began the photographic series, Untitled. Reshooting works using Mehndi and Kanku along with his new caricatured face, created a way to explore some of the day to day realities of his art making.
Bruce Nauman’s early video pieces in which he films him self repeating inane activities interrogate the idea that everything an artist does in this studio is art. As Hetain’s practice often records or presents live, his performative activity, he continues to ask where the art is. Is it the performance, or is it the video or photograph of the performance? Or is it all of the above, including the activity after the performance?