How Leela Samson, Sudarshan Shetty connecting art with people

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Updated: April 28, 2019 12:43:14 AM

Leela Samson and Sudarshan Shetty lead a weighty list of curators for the Serendipity Arts Festival this year

Singer Usha Uthup performing at the festival’s last edition

With the virtual world threatening to disrupt real-time experiences of human beings, it seems the time has come for the arts to step in. “We have a different relationship with the world today because the experience is missing,” laments artist and environmental campaigner Ravi Agarwal. Just chosen as a curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa this year, Agarwal feels society needs to find solutions before it’s too late. “We have to create the reconnection with the vulnerabilities of life,” adds Agarwal, who has just returned from the Havana Biennale, where his work on fisher people from Tamil Nadu and Cuba dealt with livelihoods based on natural landscapes.

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At the Serendipity Arts Festival, which will take place during December 15-22, Agarwal and his fellow curators will be focusing on connecting art with people to recover relationships with the outside world. While Agarwal is poised to create a different landscape through public art, ecological exploration, photography and seminars, artist Sudarshan Shetty will be tracing indigenous inventors to retell their stories in Goa. “An artist is an inventor and the inventor is an artist,” beams Shetty, who curated the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2016. Shetty, who will be heading next month for a collateral project at the Venice Biennale, plans to leave on a long trip once he returns from Italy to gather stories of India’s local inventors. He imagines his collection of stories to become a show at the festival in December.

Curators for this year’s Serendipity Arts Festival, to take place in Goa in December

Last weekend, the Serendipity Arts Foundation, which runs the festival, unveiled 13 curators for the 2019 edition of its eponymous festival that is spread across venues in Panaji. Among the curators are dancer Leela Samson and actor Arundhati Nag. Samson, a curator in the dance discipline of the festival’s 2018 edition, will be joined by dancer Mayuri Upadhya, artistic director of Bengaluru-based Nrityaruta dance company. Nag, also a curator in theatre discipline last year, will continue her work this year with actor-director Atul Kumar, artistic director of The Company theatre group in Mumbai. Agarwal and Rahaab Allana, curator of the Alkazi Foundation for the Arts in New Delhi, will head the photography discipline, while culinary arts gets a new curator in Goa-based restaurateur Prahlad Sukhtankar, along with last year’s curator and chef Rahul Akerkar.

“We believe art is one of the choices of life. There are amazing human endeavours around us,” says Hero Enterprise chairman Sunil Kant Munjal, the founder of Serendipity Arts Foundation. The foundation’s focus for the festival, Munjal says, is on sustainability, inclusiveness, educational and experiential areas. “We want to experiment a lot more,” says the foundation’s director Smriti Rajgharia who has led the festival’s past three editions. “We need art institutions of this capacity in India to take the cause of art further,” adds Rajgharia. The festival had 93 projects in various disciplines, including crafts, and music and visual arts, last year with the participation of 1,700 performing artists alone.

The author is a freelancer

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