Identity quest: An art fest that goes beyond the canvas

What do you expect when you enter an art gallery? Canvases or photographs hung on the walls, sculptures positioned under arc lights and, nowadays, even digital artworks alongside video installations. But what if you enter an art gallery and find a workshop on humorous storytelling or a dastangoi performance? Don’t turn back thinking you have reached an incorrect address since this is the scenario at the ongoing second edition of I AM — Identity Art Marathon.

“Identity is a sum total of our experiences. If we increase the number of experiences in our life, it’s easy to ascertain who we are,” says Akshat Sinha, organiser of the event, recollecting how he had walked into an art gallery last year and found that it was available for 10 days. This got him stuck with the idea of curating a festival that “transcends boundaries”.

Sinha elucidates, “For instance, if there’s a workshop for children then the kids’ parents will come, too, and end up seeing the artworks on display. So, it’s important to expose people to different art forms.” This year, the festival has four solo exhibitions, namely, Where Do They All Belong? by artist Ranjan Kaul, Frames of Silence by artist Shahanshah Mittal, Framed Emotions by artist Manu Sharma and Pehchaan by artist Abid Zaidi.

With a title inspired by the Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby, Kaul’s figurative works explore the life of the marginalised, such as the sex workers and daily wage labourers. “You don’t have to struggle to figure out what is happening in the work. In some cases the colour is different from the realistic portrayal. All paintings are in different media — acrylic, oil and pastels — but are around the broad theme of belonging,” says Kaul.

Susmita Mukherjee, from Alpaviram — who conducted a meditation session as part of the fest — says the purpose of the session was “to be in control of ourselves by becoming aware of the thoughts going in our mind”. She adds that “We have to accept the sounds around us and make ourselves aware of the thoughts going in our mind. By doing so, we can be more in control of ourselves. This was our aim to conduct the meditation session.”

Visitors can also appreciate performing arts with acts such as Aadab Manto Saheb by Kamal Pruthi (on June 15). And, if it’s interactive art that excites you, then you can look forward to a talk on Sarees of India by Alka Raghuvanshi (on June 13) or a talk on Stones that Speak by Sohail Hashmi (on June 15). There are also a few satellite events such as Women in Architecture walk at Khairul Manazil (on June 2), and Documentary Film Making Workshop by Rajat Ghose (on June 10).

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First Published:
May 29, 2019 13:20 IST

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