Abirpothi

India’s only daily art newspaper

Serendipity Arts Festival 2023 Wraps Up, Showcasing a Mosaic of Creativity and Cultural Fusion

Fusion of forms, amalgamation of crafts and diversity of expressions — Serendipity Arts Festival 2023 concludes by celebrating multitude of creative voices

The 6th physical edition of the Festival took place across multiple venues in Goa’s capital city Panjim from December 15 to December 23

Panjim, December: Goa’s capital city of Panjim transformed into a cultural hub with Serendipity Arts Festival 2023 taking over its several prominent sites and converting them into spaces of creative stimulation, artistic expressions and meaningful interactions.  The nine-day interdisciplinary festival, which concluded on December 23, was a fertile ground for conversations around mental health, and climate change initiatives besides offering a seamless blend between the traditional and contemporary across all forms to create a new vocabulary.

The 6th physical edition of the festival was supported by the Government of Goa, the Corporation of The City of Panaji, the Directorate of Art and Culture, Goa, the Entertainment Society of Goa, the Goa Tourism Department, Panaji Smart City and the Goa Forest Department. Its diverse curatorial line-up featured Sandeep Kumar Sangaru and Anjana Somany(Craft), Chef Thomas Zacharias and The Locavore Team (Culinary), Bickram Ghosh along with Ricky Kej (Music), Geeta Chandran and Mayuri Upadhya (Dance), Veeranganakumari Solanki and Vidya Shivadas (Visual Arts) and Quasar Thakore Padamsee (Theatre). The 2023 edition also had a set of special curators including Zubin Balaporia (Music), Elizabeth Yorke & Anusha Murthy with Edible Issues, for culinary arts, among others.

Zakir Hussain

Spread across 18 locations and sub-venues,, including important cultural spaces such as the Old GMCComplex, the Art Park, Azad Maidan, Dinanath Mangeshkar Kala Mandir ESG Complex, and Nagalli Hills, the nine days at the Festival offered visual, sensorial and interactive engagement for visitors across age groups. From tabla maestro Zakir Hussain opening the festival on December 15th with an electrifying performance to Shilpa Rao closing the festival while casting a spell on the audience in her mellifluous voice — musical evenings were one of the main highlights of the festival.

This year, SAF featured an extremely strong children’s programming that spanned toddlers to teenagers and a host of interactive workshops that rested on the pillars of informing, educating and entertaining attendees. From immersive performances to the amalgamation of crafts, sound and visual arts — the 2023 edition of Serendipity Arts Festival was a potpourri of creative emotions.

Inclusion at its Core

One of the festival’s primary mandates is to ensure inclusivity in its programming. Young at Art: Children’s Corner by ThinkArts at the 2023 edition developed a vibrant children’s programming across age groups that looked at inventive ways of engaging with this age group. From hosting workshops to exploring new ways of storytelling, the sessions looked at unleashing their creative imagination.

Goa Story

Sananda Mukhopadhyaya, Theatre Maker and Arts Based Educator has been associated with SAF since 2018. This year, her play for toddlers “Saglejan Kheltat” (Everyone Plays), commissioned by the NGO Quest, explored the world of animals that inhabited the child’s lives and invited the audience to imagine how these animals may play. “SAF is one of the few festivals in India that supports art for very young children. It has been heartening to see a repeat audience coming to the festival,” said Sananda.

Goa Story

Another important inclusive activity visitors were seen doing around the Old GMC Complex was experiencing the challenges and discovering new facets of creation while being blindfolded – from terracotta character-making workshops to photography workshops, the idea was to encourage participants to rely on sound, smell, touch and spatial awareness to create art.

“Every year, the aim is to take cues from the socio-economic and cultural realities around us, notice pertinent conversations and include them in the programming of Serendipity Arts Festival.  We, at Serendipity, feel art in every form can communicate the message quite effectively and this year we hoped to drive home the message of climate change, making public spaces more accessible and inclusive for all,” said Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, the Founder and Patron of the Serendipity Arts Foundation.

Of Sound and Visuals

Curated by Veerangana Solanki, “Synaesthetic Notations” explored the image as an arrival and departure point with sound as the crux of the formation of reading/ deciphering images. Spread across the first floor of the old GMC building, the exhibition featured works of 15 artists who employed various mediums to explore the relationship between sound and visual imagery as their primary senses. Works on display captivated the audience as they experienced stories, musical sounds and voices from nature reverberating in the exhibition space. Curious onlookers participated as they watched the videos and listened to audio while forming their meanings from the artwork.

Artist Satya in her production “Hello? Who is Speaking” used the sound and fragmented pieces of glass as an instrument to deconstruct and understand the meaning of ‘self’ that is layered with multiple connotations. The sense of reflection of how one perceives self and the other, while at a deeper and personal level, all of us are lonely human beings was addressed through the sound that belted out words like “…reach out and scratch my skin…”.  Visitors were seen not only interacting with the work but also engaging with the artist to understand the conceptual framework of the display.

Forces of Climate Change

This edition of the Festival presented the picture of the fragile relationship between humans and nature through visual arts, podcasts and workshops. The Old PWD Complex became the centre of the universe, as a series of mixed-media exhibitions showcased various perspectives on climate change. Curated by Damian Christinger and Ravi Agarwal, “Time As a Mother” examined our temporal relationship towards nature and the built environment, and featured Swiss and Indian artists.  For instance, Paribartana Mohanty’s video installation used mythology and folk traditions to look at narratives of disaster. Another exhibition co-curated by Ravi Agarwal and Jahnavi Phalkey of the Science Gallery Bengaluru, sought to highlight how oceans and marine ecosystems are an increasingly important site to explore innovative climate change.

Another project that illuminated the climate-resilient nature of tubers was “Roots to Resilience”, an action research and participatory project by Edible Issues that highlighted how tubers could redefine the future of food. Each day at the festival, a new tuber dish was prepared and served to participants of the workshops, while videos of various tuber recipes across the Southern region of India played in loop throughout the day to educate and inform visitors about tuber crops.

Meeting the Body, Self and the Mind

This year’s programming also aimed to bring the discourse of mental health, body acceptance and battles of loneliness in public spaces through a series of workshops, performances and plays. One of the highlights was the play “Jump” which examined the sensitive issue of suicide through the lens of two individuals from the different spectrums of life. For Maneesh Verma, the director and writer of the play, the intention behind the play was to initiate conversations about suicide in the mainstream, where it is still considered taboo.

ASMR

Then there were workshops such as “Hello Body” which encouraged participants to meet the body or “The Rhythm in Nothingness” that attempted to search for the rhythm in the human experiences of nothingness.  While the abstract performance 

“ASMR”  delved into the depths of the mind in search of identity, the workshop “What’s Desire Got to Do With It” unpacked people’s obsession with aphrodisiacs through the lens of food and desire.

A Bevy of Commissioned Projects

For this edition, SAF commissioned several projects and also partnered with many project and institutional partners, such as Institut Français (India), the British Council, Boxout, Japan Foundation, Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council, Sampad, Paper Boat Collective, Art South Asia Project, JCB Literature Foundation to weave cross-cultural narratives.

One of the SAF’s commissioned projects that stood out for its remarkable storytelling was the technology-based “Pixel” which seamlessly blended virtuoso hip-hop dance with state-of-the-art digital projection. It was supported by Institut Français (India), the Embassy of France in India, and Alliance Francaise. The production offered a compelling glimpse into the intersection of the real and virtual realms.

Another project that explored questions and zones of liminality through moments of varied experiences was “Epicentre”. This devised performance by Vikram Iyengar brought text, movement, design, and the site, in a multi-sensory manner. Then there was the Indo-Japanese collaborative piece “Shakti”, conceptualised by Ashley Lobo and Navdhara India Dance Theatre, which explored the themes of energy with a focus on the feminine.

Shakti Performance

“The overall response to the festival has been extremely heartening. We wanted to bring things to people that they would have otherwise not seen. This year has been truly collaborative, as we have partners from various countries because of which we were able to get some wonderful projects that were in dialogue with Indian artists and projects. Looking back at how these collaborations have fallen in place, I can say culture can surely be an important diplomatic tool. Additionally, for the 2023 edition, we also looked at visual arts through sound to explore how we can engage more meaningfully with audiences across diverse spectrums,” said Ms. Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation & Festival.

The 2023 edition of the festival featured over 150 events, incredible works of more than 1500 artists, ten curators and around 15 special curators. Alongside, there were around 15 commissioned works, exploring diverse practices and artistic creations through a different lens.

“The overall response to the festival has been extremely heartening. We wanted to bring things to people that they would have otherwise not seen. This year has been truly collaborative, as we have partners from various countries because of which we were able to get some wonderful projects that were in dialogue with Indian artists and projects. Looking back at how these collaborations have fallen in place, I can say culture can surely be an important diplomatic tool. Additionally, for the 2023 edition, we also looked at visual arts through sound to explore how we can engage more meaningfully with audiences across diverse spectrums,” said Ms. Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation & Festival.

 This was the 8th edition of the festival, of which two were digitally hosted in the years 2020 and 2021, respectively.

To know more about the festival please visit www.serendipityartsfestival.com

Read Also:

SAF 2023: Are You Ready for South Asia’s biggest interdisciplinary art festival?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *