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Panaji turns into a public art space as Serendipity Arts Festival opens

twitter-logoPTI | December 16, 2018 | Updated 13:13 IST

Panaji, Dec 16 (PTI) An organized hustle seemed to have gripped the city as the third edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival opened on Saturday is successfully turning the Goan capital into an engaging public art space. The footpaths here are crowded with pedestrians walking from one venue to another in the pleasant Goan sun, all trying their best to catch everything they could in this tightly curated multi-disciplinary arts festival, which features over 90 projects highlighting India's rich traditions of music, dance and theatre, alongside culinary arts, craft, and visual arts exhibitions. From recreating a market place in a park to dramatizing the "Mahabharata" using puppetry, and singing retro Bollywood songs to jazz tunes, the eighth-day-long event is celebrating all things, ordinary and nostalgic, alike. "Intimate Documents" in the photography section curated by Ravi Agarwal is a heart-warming vindication of the age old saying – 'a picture is worth a thousand words'. Exhibited at the Adil Shah Palace here, it captures the mundane, that seems clichéd, but true in an inexplicable way. "(The works) examine the renewed visual language of the photograph. Recognising the shifting registers both of the medium as well as of the personal, they carve out precise ways in which the photograph continues to produce a world in a flux," Agarwal says. It features the photographic practices of seven contemporary artists in South Asia -- Anoop Ray, Avani Tanya, Chandan Gomes, Chinar Shah, Indu Antony, Natalie Sysa and Sachin Perera, and Sohrab Hura. The uniqueness of the festival lies in the fact that it does not focus on a single art form, but brings together seven of them. It celebrates the best of craft, music, theatre, culinary arts, visual arts and photography by blurring the boundaries that separate the art forms from one another. "Our vision is to create a strong foundation for arts development across the disciplines and we hope that this rich diversity of events will inspire diverse audiences from across the country to visit Goa this December," Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Festival said. Another visually evocative set of works is "The Sacred Everyday: Embracing the Risk of Difference", curated by Ranjit Hoskote. The show on view at the Adil Shah Palace and the Church of Santa Monica, explores the "interrelationship between the divine, cosmic and sublime, and the realm of the human, intimate and the domestic". Some of the works are darkly comic in a way that they create a narrative around the origins of our religious figures vis-à-vis the contemporary communal times. "This interrelationship is articulated through ritual and festivity, vernacular translations, and the interplay of the sacred and the profane, which in Indian culture are not stark opposites, but two dynamic and interactive poles on a sliding spectrum of possibilities," Hoskote says. The theatre segment too opened with a bang as Arundhati Nag brought to the stage the epic "Mahabharata", retold for the contemporary times. Under the open evening sky, the production re-enacted the iconic episodes from the epic war -- disrobing of Draupadi, deaths of Dronacharya, Karna and the tragic end of Ashwatthama -- through the use of puppetry. "This performance with puppets, masks, shadow puppets and materials look at the Mahabharata as a dynamic narrative which has evolved over a few thousand years through the sung verses of Togalu Gombeyatta's 'Silakeyata Mahabharta' and remains relevant in the new search of contemporary puppeteers," Nag, who is one of the curators of the Theatre section of the festival, said. The act, directed by Anurupa Roy, also raises pertinent questions about the possibilities of averting the apocalyptic war by exploring alterations in the choices made by different characters. The inaugural day came to a close on a peppy note with 'The Bartender' -- a brain-child of award-winning songwriter, composer and producer Mikey McCleary. Last but not the least, the DB ground was almost transported to a Gatsby-esque era, thanks to the band that belted out classic Bollywood tunes like 'Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh' and 'Babuji Dheere Chalna', remixed and set to Jazz. PTI TRS MG MG

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