Herald: Serendipity Arts Festival leaves an indelible mark

Serendipity Arts Festival leaves an indelible mark

26 Dec 2018 05:32am IST

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26 Dec 2018 05:32am IST

Report by
Team Café

Leave a comment

The 2018 edition of Serendipity Arts Festival closed on

Saturday 22nd December following a huge turnout of over 350,000 visitors across venues during the festival.Over 90 dynamic projects showcasing the visual, performing and culinary arts, across 10 venues in Panaji transformed Goa into a effervescent cultural space with multiple exhibitions, performances and experiential arts experiences involving over 1500 artist

SmritiRajgarhia, Festival Director said:“This edition of Serendipity Arts Festival has been a huge success, with impressive turnout from the locals in Goa and global engagement from more world leading institutions than ever before. Our vision for the festival is based on creation, introspection and collaboration. We wish to build and strengthen an ever-growing platform that accommodates India’s and the region’s intangible heritage. We hope to reposition this heritage in a manner that makes it both contemporary and inclusive.”

Sunil Kant Munjal, Chairman Serendipity Arts Foundation said,“ One of our key objectives at the Serendipity Arts Festival is to unite the country through the arts. Whilst we are consistently committed to engaging the public and being inclusive, we’re also focused on energising contemporary practice not just in Goa, but across the country. The objective is to challenge traditional boundaries and redefine engagement with the arts. We are extremely pleased with the response we have received this year. The eight days of the Serendipity Arts Festival is only a window but the work of the Serendipity Arts Foundation is year long. The initiatives of the festival every year feed into the research programs for the Serendipity Arts Foundation to implement for the next year.”

The Goan public, and culture enthusiasts visiting the city from across the world were treated to an impressive array of programming including visual arts exhibitions at Adil Shah Palace, large-scale photography and craft installations across public spaces, children’s music performances, panel discussions, film screenings, culinary workshops, outdoor theatre performances, held in the Panaji Municipal Market and the Kadamba Bus Terminus as well as dance and music performances in the evening in Kala Academy and DB Football Ground.

Chief Minister ManoharParrikar said, “Serendipity arts festival has added to Goa’s growing reputation as major cultural center of the country and given a big boost to tourism for Goa. Many have benefited from Serendipity Arts Festival, beyond just the art lover, to the public and has become a platform for them to experience all forms of the arts. Retailers, hoteliers, restaurants, taxis etc. have all benefited. This is a star event for the growing reputation of Goa as a cultural center for the sub continent. I would like to thank Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal and Serendipity arts festival for coming back to Goa for the third time. Goa wholeheartedly supports them and we hope they will continue to come here and make this the permanent home for the Serendipity Arts Festival.”

The programming for Visual Arts and Photography this year offered visitors a wide spectrum of projects, each considering a distinct tenet of artistic practice, from collections, archival images and historical works, to diverse performances and street art. Visitors were exposed to international artists furthering the Festival’s objective of promoting cross-cultural exchange and fostering global dialogue via the arts. The programming also responded to conversations within global contemporary art, evolving the dialogue on creative practices, and policy within the wider arts community via panel discussions and workshops, whilst also addressing key issues and concerns in India’s society.

Visual arts curators included RanjitHoskote, RahabAllana and Ravi Aggarwal who each presented a different facet of the visual arts and lens culture through their selected works. Exhibitions were displayed alongside special project initiatives including St+art Goa by the St+art India Foundation, Out of Turn curated by Asia Art Archive and MeenakshiThirukodeand an international Film Programme curated by SabeenaGadihoke.

This year’s theatre and dance events focused on gender issues, as well the LGBTQ+ community, examining the challenges and pressure of heteronormative societies, considering their impact on contemporary India. Several projects confronted the laws questioning the legitimacy of diverse sexualities, examining effects on artistic practice, looking at the work of LGBTQ+ movements across the country, and their role in mobilising public awareness and community consciousness about equal and fair rights for citizens. Projects such as Spotlight on the Margins, featuring the performance ‘ParayanMarannaKadhakal’, and accompanied by a panel discussion and film, were held alongside productions of ‘Queen-size, Gentlemen’s Club and Lavani Queens… Double Mazaa!’which also addressed these themes.

This year’s dance and theatre programmes also had a particular emphasis on traditional folk arts and dance, curated by Chennai based Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, instructor and Padma Shri recipient Leela Samson and Ranjana Dave, Odissi dancer and arts writer. The dance discipline at this year’s festival engaged almost all traditional forms of Indian dance. The projects had an interdisciplinary focus and intended to explore interrelationships between the performing and visual arts, venturing into alternate spaces, and emphasising gesture and the body.

Dynamic Music programming at the Festival, included a performance by Grammy Nominated LA based artist Raja Kumari and the innovative project ‘Museum of Sounds in My Head’ curated by leading Bollywood Music Director Sneha Khanwalkar. Exploring the cross currents between sound, visuals, space and technology, the project was an interdisciplinary sound installation that examined the relationship between visual arts, technology and music. Aneesh Pradhan, one of India’s leading tabla players, curated a range of projects that platformed folk and traditional practitioners alongside local Goan musicians and international artists, offering audiences a unique amalgamation of both Western and Indian music, including Bollywood, retro, jazz, and electro funk music. One of the highlights of the Festival’s music programming was the River Raga, conceived by guest curator ShubhaMudgal.

‘Serendipity Soundscapes’, an initiative by Serendipity Arts Festival brought together the unique sounds of the subcontinent via some extraordinary projects..Aneesh Pradhan presented, Maverick Playlist, an unfettered musical exchange - drawing on diverse musical ideas, techniques, styles and songwriting both from India and from other parts of the world, and ‘Anti Musicals’ offered classic musicals remixed as never before, curated by Sneha Khanwalkar.

Alongside the more traditional disciplines of music, visual arts, theatre and dance, the Festival also celebrated craft and artisan artforms as physical and tangible products of human creativity in ‘Matters of Hand’, exploring objects and artisan processes not usually associated with ‘high art’, which are culturally significant in our society. Curated by Dr. Annapurna Garimella, Delhi-based designer and an art historian and RashmiVarma, the Craft projects focussed this year on local Goan crafts that were displayed in a specially designed architectural structure, in continuation of one of last year’s projects. The exploration of everyday objects brings to light their histories, and the status of Indian handicraft in the present time, encouraging an equal collaboration between designers and craftspeople.

Curated by Odette Mascarenhas, food historian and critic, author and television host and Rahul Akerkar, one of Mumbai’s leading restaurant moguls, the Culinary Arts discipline this year moved away from the idea of food being a means to sustenance, and discovers the different possibilities of food as art/performance, innovation and delight. Festival provided a unique food experience through curated workshops, with focus on local produce and regional flavors; recreating a Goan marketplace and its unique wares, and celebrating the integral role of spice in Indian cuisine as well as unusual but intriguing pairings in food and drink.

One of the key objectives of this year’s Serendipity Arts Festival is to be a catalyst for cross-cultural exchange, fostering a sense of unity across disciplines and artforms whilst also erasing regional divisions in the country. Offering equal opportunities to artists, artisans, indigenous and folk art forms, performers and other creative practitioners from all over India, the event aims to foster the development of thriving artistic communities across India by making the arts inclusive, educational and accessible.

The festival also proactively engaged a range of demographics with a strong policy of diversity and inclusion bringing together over 1200 students from various schools in Goa along with underprivileged children and those with special needs through a series of specially curated participatory events and tours.

SanjeevMantri, Executive Director, ICICI Lombard General Insurance, “It has been an absolute honour for us at ICICI Lombard to be a part of this initiative. Over the course of this festival, we witnessed the exceedingly impressive art talent of the country. We are proud to have associated with Serendipity Arts Foundation for this incredible event.”

Coca-Cola India spokesperson said, “ Coca-Cola India is proud to be back as a partner for the 2018 edition of Serendipity Arts Festival and present this year’s closing act, Coke Studio feat. Clinton Cerejo. Music has the power to transcend barriers and bind people together and we hope that audiences will have an unforgettable experience.”

Shrinivas V. Dempo, Chairman Dempo House said, “ I would like to congratulate the organizers and the curators of the Serendipity Arts Festival 2018, for bringing this multi-disciplinary arts festival to Goa, now three years in a row. It is a true promoter of free artistic expressions and that is woven into the fabric of this festival, bringing together a diverse range of art and artistry from the whole country and across the globe. The City of Panaji celebrates the festival, for eight days and Goans have embraced this festival even on a bigger scale this year. Engaging with multiple local businesses and service providers it also boosts business and grants creative inclusion by liberalizing art and culture as an effective social tool. It has truly benefited goa and given an opportunity to the local artists to promote its rich cultural heritage.”

Serendipity Arts Festival is the only art event in India which unites the creative disciplines, committed to creating tangible change across the country’s cultural spectrum by engaging the public and increasing awareness of how art can impact society. It also aims to foster the development of thriving artistic communities across India by making the arts inclusive, educational and accessible.

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