Started in 2016, the Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF) in Panaji, Goa, has grown into one of the largest multi-disciplinary arts initiatives in South Asia. Artists from across the world shed the pressures of political correctness or ticket sales to push the envelope as far as it can go.
Away from Goa’s happening beaches, the fun for a few days in December takes place on a 1.8-km stretch along river Mandovi that erupts with paintings, music, theatre, graffiti, dance, cooking and aesthetic comments on social politics, among others. One might attend a concert in a park or on a ferry, an exhibition of rare photographs at the Adil Shah Palace, learn to build a house with folding bricks, watch a video installation in a shipping container or spend a morning baking sourdough bread.
Sometimes, art rubs power the wrong way. Last year, four members of the music band, Dastaan Live, were arrested for allegedly “performing songs that insult the Hindu religion”. On the same day, a visual arts exhibition curated by Sudarshan Shetty was briefly shut after visitors scribbled slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act on blank canvases.
Like most headline events of the world, SAF has taken a break in 2020. A new digital experience has emerged in its place, called the Serendipity Arts Virtual (SAV), with programming that bears a distinct cutting-edge stamp. SAV started on December 4 and you have today, the finale, to catch some of the works. Some previous performances are available on YouTube. Here’s a few of the best of SAV:
Nihayati Niji Baatein
“Hello, main Geeta Tyagi.” With these words, Mumbai-based performance artist Jyoti Dogra launches one of the biggest hits of SAF, titled Nihayati Niji Baatein, a 20-minute tutorial on make-up that becomes something more. How did Geeta, the finalist in the final round of Ms Ramesh Nagar, who dreamed of being a peace ambassador, come to be living with a cat, Rani, in Ramesh Nagar and devoting the past 25 years to taking private tuitions in English, Math, Science? Click on https://nihayatiniji.serendipityartsvirtual.com/?page_id=44
The Last Poet
Performance maker Amitesh Grover was inspired to create The Last Poet during the pandemic as he witnessed its ground realities, from the workers’ exodus to the attitude of the media. “A theatre of love, a city of sorrow, a people searching for their missing poet” is how Grover describes the performance, which works with theatre, film, sound art, creative coding, digital scenography, and live performance. Till December 21. Register on https://in.bookmyshow.com/events/the-last-poet/ET00301439?webview=true
Introducing… Antigone, Interrupted
The story of Antingone is about a young woman who puts her body on the line to defend what she thinks is right. It is also about a king who is convinced that nothing should be above the law and, therefore, after 2,000 the play still confronts us with striking questions and issues that are relevant to out contemporary world,” says Scottish choreographerJoan Cleville while introducing his 2020 work, Antigone, Interrupted by Scottish Dance Theatre. The event combines footage from the original stage production, scenes reimagined for the digital medium and real-time meet-the-artist conversation.
Future Landing- Drips, Departures and Losing Control
The web portal turns into a virtual studio for five artists at a time and activates itself through viewer involvement. “Each visit becomes unique as patterns and hums trigger drip unconscious minds’ libraries into the pulse of ever-changing projects that land and leave with only the trace of a time stamp on Future Landing’s ‘Drip Axis,’” says the curatorial note. Among the works is the Nepal Picture Library, a digital photo archive that aims to create a broad and inclusive visual archive of Nepali social and cultural history. Click on https://futurelanding.serendipityartsvirtual.com/
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