MA Arts Politics Class of 2017
BA Public Affairs, The Ohio State University
Anooj Bhandari is an advocate, actor, and adventurist. His interests in the Arts Politics ethos are in using emotionally expressive performance art to build communities of trust and emotional rehabilitation for those experiencing identity based conflict and discrimination, and to fill the buffer between human rights advocacy and social justice law with narratives that challenge rather than exploit critical thought around the lives of marginalized populations. He works with many curriculum development and community facilitation projects, working with dialogue and facilitation on leadership development and intersectionality of social identity, primarily with youth. He cares about justice, transcendence, expression, and being well equipped to take on the world with a passport, framed picture of his dog, dictionary of puns, and remembering that in the scope of everything, he knows nothing. He constantly lives in a liminal space of walking around and claiming to be things so that he becomes them.
What drew you to the MA Arts Politics program?
The program seemed simultaneously so broad and so niche. The merging of Arts and Politics post-program seems nothing but intimate and obvious but in applying to the program, I knew I loved theatre and dance and that my priorities were in youth development and social justice education and I thought this program would let me expand into those specifications without reducing me being to only those things.
How do you describe or identify your practice/ work?
I would describe my practice as world creating, space making, and interdependence building through a merging of social justice education/community organizing practice and performance art. I'm specifically interested in creating and devising performance work that centers the body as a container of all that is home as well as merging the arts with educational pedagogy.
How did your experience in the program shape your work?
My experiences in the program completely reshaped my work, my craft, and my foundations of work because the program, in short, pushed me to analyze and rebuild what those things were. I remember during our course in Puerto Rico we visited Daniel Lind Ramos and it was the perfect bridge between my two semesters, giving me a chance to see art work that manifested the sensory experiences of home in ethnographic, resistance work, and that experience rerouted my experiences as a creator and maker all throughout the second semester. Alongside this, I have a newfound love for curatorial practice and being able to seek connections in my surroundings to bring together with the ethical questions that come with being an artist.
What are you doing now?
I feel this answer will be permanently dynamic, but at the moment I am working for an organization called Make the Road NY as a Restorative Justice Coordinator, as well as a Teaching Artist with The Moth and NYU's LGBTQ Center. I'm also doing a handful of smaller projects at the intersection of arts and community building and continuing to devise and make work on my own. I am still walking around the world trying to bring out a sense of newness and wonder in every move,.