Goa Open Arts festival and the art of fostering relationships


New Delhi:    With a view to build upon the community of creative people residing in Goa, the maiden edition of The Goa Open Arts Festival that will take place from February 13 to 16 at Nagoa in North Goa aims to foster collaborations and relationships amongst participants who may not have previously known each other – but are all living and making work in the state.

Talking about this free to attend and open to the public festival, Sitara Chowfla, independent curator and spokesperson of the festival recalls that the festival was prompted by the idea that there are a significant number of creative people – artists, writers, designers, poets, musicians and who had come from around the country and the world, to make Goa their home.

“The intention has also been to encourage and provide a platform for creating new work and for artists to retain control over what and how they show. This is a point of difference from many other festivals – that it is organized by artists and the content is driven by the selected artists and not by curators. We’re also working to making it a sustainable, eco-responsible event,” she tells IANS.

Stressing that the underlying thought behind the three-day festival is premised on the idea of ‘openness’, Chowfla elaborates that they have included a diverse range of practices in the arts — music, performance, visual arts, poetry — and also opened up different interpretations of art. “For example, we have chefs who are using food to awaken sensory experiences and a mental health initiative that uses creative design to reach out to adolescents. There will also be artists conducting workshops for children from the village schools, thus opening up space to a different audience. One important aspect of being open is that it is for anyone to apply, whether an emerging artist or an established practitioner,” she says.

With participation from more than 70 artists, selected from the open call for applications, the festival will showcase a wide discipline of artists and makers. The visual arts exhibition includes works by Orijit Sen, an interactive textile art project by young Goan artist Rujuta Rao, multimedia installations by artists Gopika Chowfla, Dheer Kaku, Mustafa Khanbai and Rajaram Naik. There’s also many interactive projects including the Travelling Library by Bookworm trust, a special exhibit on mental health by Goa-based NGO Sangath in collaboration with Quicksand Design Studio, and a polaroid photo studio set up by photographer Bharat Sikka.

Well-known artists Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore, and Bhisaji Gadekar will be doing performances.

The main stage will witness acoustic music and poetry acts by the likes of Rochelle D’Silva, Shyamant Behal, Gomez, and late-night music will range from Sufi music by HAWA, jazz and funk by the Coffee Cats, and a Fado concert by Sonia Shirsat. “We’ve also created a lot of opportunities for local schools to interacts with our program – clay-making, theatre and printmaking workshops for students in the area.”

The independent curator says that though they plan to expand their reach in terms of the artists they get to know and the audiences who are interested in their program in the coming years, the aim is not really to make the festival bigger. “Our focus will be on deepening the engagement with the community with more sustained programs through the year and through fostering cross-collaboration between our current participating artists,” she asserts.

Talk to her about Goa’s growing popularity among artists from across the country, and she asserts, “The state’s inherent natural beauty, culture, and people — there is particular energy here that attracts creative people and creative activities. It seems to be a natural fit perhaps that’s why more and more cultural events are being planned in Goa. Goan musicians have always been at the forefront and now Goan artists are more confidently stepping into these new festival spaces.”

Feb 12 (IANS)


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