SERENDIPITY ARTS Festival, a multi-disciplinary arts event to be held in Panaji, Goa, from December 16-23, is the latest on the cultural calender. Offering an intensive schedule of exhibitions, performances, workshops and other activities, the festival will be curated by a panel of experts spanning performing, visual and culinary arts. Festival director Preeta Singh tells Ivinder Gill about the various facets of the fest.
What do you aim to achieve with this fest?
Serendipity Arts Festival will be the first edition in a long-term cultural project that hopes to affect positive change in the arts in India on a large scale. The selection of curators, the festival structure and the programming itself all represent a sincere effort to address the creative needs, aspirations and potential of contemporary India. Rather than just being a showcase of great Indian art, this festival is a cultural experiment that hopes to, over time, affect the way Indians interact with art on a daily basis.
Why did you choose visual, performing and culinary arts? Is it because there is a lacuna where these are concerned?
We wanted to bring together a broad range of art forms, and place them in conversation with one another. The aim is not to address lacunae in terms of which artistic disciplines we might choose to feature, but to focus on how they interact with each other and how both practitioners and audiences can benefit from being in such a space. From the viewpoint of the arts practitioner, we are creating new opportunities for collaboration and discourse. From the audience’s point of view, we’re creating an experience that shows how the arts are connected and inter-dependent. You might, for example, go to the festival as an avid follower of classical dance, but come away with a new-found passion for street or performance art. The curation of the festival has been carefully thought out to encourage this kind of discovery and exploration. This leads to the idea
This is perhaps the first fest to celebrate culinary arts. What made you think about it?
The culinary arts represent a field of incredible creativity and diversity, especially in India. This is perhaps the art form that most of us encounter most frequently in our daily lives. We believe it is quite natural to examine this art form on the same platform as visual and performing arts. Our programming explores food through the lens of history and tradition, but also as a form of contemporary expression and experimentation.
Do you see this becoming an annual event, like India Art Fair or JLF, which are a must-visit for many?
We are aiming at making Serendipity fest an annual event, which people look forward to attending.
Will the festival be free to all?
It will mostly be a free festival, with maybe a performance that will be ticketed.
Was choosing Goa, particularly in the thick of the tourist season, intentional?
Goa’s incredibly diverse culture and history make it a natural space for creative exchange and conversations. As a meeting point of tradition and modernity, a reflection of the complexity of contemporary India, and as a bridge between India and the rest of the world, Goa is the ideal location for such a fest.
Apart from culinary arts, are there any other Goa flavours in the festival?
Evidently the real essence of Goa lies in its rich history, unique culture and the original natural beauty, driving from which Serendipity Arts Festival takes its first inauguratory step by placing every aspect of Goa on one platter. To showcase this virtual beauty of Goa, Serendipity brings on board Prashant Panjiar, one of India’s senior photojournalists and picture editors, to hold various exhibitions of photography and portray the artworks highlighting the growth and magnificent changes that Goa has seen over the years. Ranging from archival prints to contemporary places and people of Goa, the project encompasses different facets of Goan identity.