Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Admissions Open

CEPT will train students to become consultants to the media and publishing industry
Art is ubiquitous. It may not be particularly dignified or newsworthy all the time, but it is there everywhere. From the arrangement of utensils in a Kutch dwelling to the art of Subodh Gupta, there is an intrinsic sense of aesthetics that transfixes an art aficionado. However, why do people use it everyday? What significance does it hold? These are questions that have gained momentum over time. This growing awareness has created a need to fill the gap between the observer and the creator.
CEPT (Centre for Environmental Protection and Technology), an educational institution based in Ahmedabad, is one of the first in the country to start a course in Arts Journalism.
The two-year Master's Programme seeks to integrate and build on CEPT's strengths in the field of architecture, interior design, environment planning, conservation and urban design, amongst others. The students will be provided with opportunities to create new paradigms in learning and presenting the arts through different mediums.
The emphasis will be on helping the students to reflect upon art, design and creativity beyond their material forms, and more as an attitude towards life as a whole.
New perspective
Dhwani Dalal, a second-year student from Arts Journalism and also a vocalist, says, “This course, apart from helping me discover myself, has been extremely engaging. Learning has never been so much fun. It has also brought in the realisation that it is imperative to provide interpretations of works of art to the common people.”
The opportunities are manifold. The Art Journalists can become writers, journalists, creative consultants to the media (electronic, visual, and the radio) and explore prospects with the publishing industry, art galleries, art and design studios and magazines.
For more details, log onto the website
Forms can be downloaded from the website for the coming session.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Where is Kala Ghoda?

By Lissa Chazot 

A black stone statue of the then Prince of Wales mounted on a horse was enshrined in collective memory of the people living in South Mumbai and the locality was christened 'Kala Ghoda' after the famous sculpture. Although it is now in the Jijamata Udyan in Byculla (Mumbai), the Kala Ghoda locality retained the nomenclature. Every year during winter, an Arts Festival is organized in the parking area which is converted into a hub for promoting upcoming artists and craftsmen. Everywhere the silhouette of a horse is present like a leitmotiv on every poster, brochure, literature available at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. Despite the absence of the Kala Ghoda sculpture it continues to resonate and inspire even today.  
In stark contrast to the dark overtones and symbolic value of a 'black' horse, the space buzzes with life, energy, human activity, food, music…a riot of colors greets the eye as one steps into the precinct of the KG area. Walking through a colourful gateway made of painted Godrej almirahs (steel cupboards), the installation 'Drought – No Rain' by Gray Black, comprising of black horse made with ephemeral materials (twigs) is nudged at the entrance, in the middle of the alley and attracts the eye despite the medley of colors surrounding it.

What is interesting is why a contemporary artist would opt for a historical figure with no direct relation to present day concerns. Shahane, one of the artists explains, "A horse is symbolic of power and speed, which is what concerns us today especially in big cities where we have to run to stay in the race". As the powerful image of tall horse with an imposing stature greeted the visitors, it felt queer to see it look coarse and dry. The artists justified saying, "it represented their concept of a drought, invading our lives. It stood for the drought in the environment, in creativity, in opportunities, in relationships…A black horse is majestic and often portrayed in motion but we portrayed it in an immobile position as if it were stuck, waiting for change but in the process of waiting has lost vitality and dried up." Although the form of the installation created by the 1998 graduates of J.J College, with a mimetic aspect to it, which can't be denied, the concept per say is quite superficial in its treatment. 
The first impression one gets upon seeing it is that it symbolizes the Kala Ghoda Festival. Upon probing further with viewers who stopped by to click it's picture, most shrugged and just found it pleasing to the eye. It didn't make them think or question. Many also thought it was commissioned by the Kala Ghoda Association to promote the Festival. When the official photographer of the Festival, Nitesh Nitesh was asked, he also echoed the same sentiment. Although the subject created some miscommunication between the creators and the receivers, the artists opted for this mode of communication as they found it to be a "good medium to express with no boundaries moreover it includes the scope of working with mixed media".


Pavement 'Art'

By Suchita Mundhra

The life of no artist is simple or easy. After years of hardships and struggle they make a place for themselves and earn a recognisable name. This is no fairy tale or rags to riches story, this is the story of ‘just another’ artist who strives not to gain recognition but be loyal to art. Amidst the glitter of The Times of India Kala Ghoda Arts Festival there were faces who craved for attention and their paintings hung on the walls of the pavement of the streets of Kala ghoda. So little is known about these pavement dwellers of the area, who sketch live portraits for a cost of Rupees hundred. Kala Ghoda festival is a means for them to see more faces and sketch more.

The Pavement Art Gallery of Kala Ghoda truly reflects the picture that there isn’t a dearth of artists. While crossing the pavement everyday as one enters the official venue of the festival, some of these works strike attention. They may not have received any formal training but that does not stop them to pursue art in the public. Some of them take this passion for art further and an instinctive decision has brought them in the art scene. This stands true in the case of Sanjay Dorlikar, a resident of Chandrapur, a town 150 kms from Nagpur in Madhya Pradesh. Eight years in Mumbai, selling art on the pavement of Kala Ghoda he is among the hundred others who come to the city of dreams. No amount of hardship can deter him. Art was not a means that he chose out of compulsion but a deliberate choice. A diploma in Industrial Engineering that could fetch him a decent job did not curtail him to pursue his interest in art.

His interest in painting and sketching lies in the early years of his childhood when he would nonchalantly sketch the people around him to became a source of inspiration and also models. This later got refined and transformed into a serious liking towards the art of portraiture. Gradually, to broaden his horizon he drifted towards landscape. Looking at a few of his work one sees the minimal use of colours. Black, white and grey dominate the colour palette. These shades depict the dark as well as the brighter side of his life. For him each painting is about depicting his mood and thoughts. The aggression and the force that he feels from within are translated on the canvas. For him one lifetime is not enough for any artist to accomplish all. For the last 3-4 years he has been deeply studying the life of Buddha and painting Buddha in different forms. Every time he completes a work it gives him a sense of satisfaction and serenity.

When asked what it is that had brought him to the city and that connects him to this place so well, he pronounces gleefully, ‘the sense of freedom has brought me here’. He stands complacent sketching faces everyday, but his face is hardly remembered or name hardly recalled. When asked Neeti, one of the customers who got herself sketched by Sanjay as to how did she find his work, a blank expression followed and the first thing she said was, ‘ I did not bother to ask the name of the ‘guy’ who sketched’. This is how fast he is forgotten and this ‘guy’ who sketches faces everyday is has a ‘nameless’, ‘faceless’ existence.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dance swings

“The dance heat of the Kalaghoda festival; The Kathak classic to flop hip hop. How much did it appeal to the viewers?

11th February 2010
By, Dhwani Dalal

The amphitheater accommodated a mixture of crowds; from admirers of the traditional Hindustani dance ‘Kathak’ to the western-Bollywood groove lovers; all set towards the stage waiting for the performers to heat up the stage. Young crowd secured their seats an hour before the western dance gig starts following the Kathak group; and the Kathak lovers too. It was a fair chance for both the audiences to enjoy different dance forms of individuality.

This year, the festival was fortunate to have performers from Maneesha Nrityalaya Charitable trust based in Pune since 1975; an opening solo performance by Guru Maneesha Sathe on the Khamaj raga was the perfect move to glue the audience. Manishaji executed the show with explaining essentials of the dance and went about different budges to get the interest of viewers. “In Kathak, Nrut explains the technical aspect and Nritya means the interpretation part” said Manishaji and performed a dance on an eighteen beats ‘Lakshmi taan’ exploring the place of beats in this dance form. The facade of Kathak is expressions, twirls and the most important of them is balance; Manishaji justified all three features in her magnificent style. Another solo act represented her skill of balance and one of the favorite dance styles of her Guru Gopi Kishanji was a tribute to her Guru; it was a dance where she chanted the ‘Toda’ herself and grooved on the brass plate, it mesmerized the viewers.

Maneeshaji’s institute is a blossomed tree with bunch of ripe fruits; the disciples and best of her students performed seven minutes of act on ‘Holi’ depicting a classic scene of ‘Holi playing’ with Krishna and Gopi in the Vrindavan. Dancers wearing range of colors were symbolizing the festival of colors; the song “Hori Hori..” composed by Pandit Balvant Shankar is a ‘Chatrang’ which is a fusion of four elements of Indian classical music, 'Bandish','Tarana','Sargam' and 'Pakhwaj'.

The last performance could not stop the audience to stand up and applaud; a synchrony act between the Guru and Shishyas playing with ‘Ghoonghroo’; the fascinating sound articulation of a Ghoonghroo stunned the viewers. The skill of producing a fine sound from Ghoonghroo was just a glimpse of their years of practice and hard work.

The next beat after the Kathak, was the most awaited play of the evening; The Bollywood-Salsa and Hip Hop. Very paradoxical to the previous dance; was expected to have a charm of its own; but the group M'2 (Mumbai) did not expel the energy that could grip the audience. A poor start with almost two years old Bollywood dance hit did not compel the viewers at a point. Low energy in the moves and lack of co-ordination dropped the show completely for the audience having high expectation with the standards of Kalaghoda and Times of India group. The Item number appealed to a set of viewers that too was disappointing when came to its end. Including the dance; it couldn’t even set the mood for one to groove due to the dull song selection and lack of preparations. An over glittered costumes did not attract from any angle.

The Hip hop part with the Bollywood fusion presented some of their best steps and co-ordination which recharged the audience. Trick of using props with a local contact like Maharashtrian ‘topis’ and goggles exited the ‘Mumbaikars’. The most unsatisfactory skit of the evening was the ‘Salsa’; not in case of a normal viewer but the connoisseur could easily find out the biggest flaw of the dance which was a ‘salsa’ performed on a ‘Samba’ beats. Neelam, a former graphic designer from the’ Time’ magazine New York said, “it didn’t work for me”. Where a Mumbaikar; Mr.Hirani Narayn said “I enjoyed the show, well everyone has got their own choice”.
Of course the show did not fall into the category of ‘non- entertaining’ but couldn’t cope up with expectations of the regular Kalaghoda visitors; where the Kathak group rocked the show in its own way; today’s evening leaded the young audience to look forward to our own classical dance, and won over the westernization again.

The Art of 'writing'

By Suchita Mundhra

A bold line drawn horizontally or vertically, is not just a line but defines the way you ‘stand in a society’. This is the line and the philosophy on which Achyut Palav, an alumnus of Sir JJ Institute of Applied Art, has been following for the past 25 years. His workshop on ‘Classic Calligraphy with Sanskrit Styles’ in The Times of India Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, 2010 was an introductory session, open to anybody above the age of 12 years. Calligraphy, an ancient art is not only about writing creatively and beautifully with curving the alphabets and experimenting with the bold and thin lines. It is an entire philosophy and has an aesthesis to it. The way one uses lines and the distances between lines is a reflection of the self. It is human behaviour, which reflects in this form of writing. It also gives one the power to concentrate and focus. His workshop tried to incorporate some of these elements concentrating more on acquiring the skill.

A one and a half hour workshop surely cannot teach this art in detail but is enough to create and arouse interest. This art of holding the pen (the tip of the pen is flat, instead of pointed) correctly is the first step of learning calligraphy. There are some strict rules that need to be adhered while employing this form. Holding the pen at an angle of 45 degrees and not changing the position of the pen while writing the alphabets. This ground rule has to be followed to write in the Devanagari script. The artist also showed various ways the alphabets can be used to create a design for a t-shirt. Seeing him at work was a pleasure as he shares a passion for this art.

People of all age group and different occupations were seen in the workshop. Interestingly, housewives with their kids attended the workshop and also discovered(some of them had never thought it was an impossible task) their creativity. This is what Preeti, a mother of a ten year old had to say, ‘I never thought that I could write anything this beautifully. When the workshop started I found it mundane because I was not being able to hold the pen properly. But, if I can learn it in half an hour then with greater practise I am confident I can design cards and t-shirts on my own.’ Irony has its place everywhere, a doctor, who are known to have bad hand writing did a spectacular job. With Valentine ’s Day just around the corner most of them participants scribbled (initially) their partner’s names.

While being a participant myself I realised how important it is to concentrate while creating alphabets. The artist himself has not restricted himself to writing only alphabets but plays around with musical notes and adds them with the alphabets. He is almost a whiz at the art. When asked how did he get into this art, he replied with no second thoughts, ‘ I always wanted to learn calligraphy and take this art forward .It is a very good way to express your thoughts which words and sentences cannot always do .’ Like any other form of art even calligraphy articulates the mood, the nature of an artist. Achut Palav to take forward this form has opened the first school in Navi Mumbai that teaches calligraphy formally.

A veteran in this field, he has also worked with eminent calligraphers Late Prof. R. K. Joshi and Prof. Werner Schneider. He has also initiated the movement Urja, which pledged to popularise this form of art and bring it to every Indian home.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Eco Voice

by Lissa Chazot
As I walked by the crowded lanes of Kala Ghoda with deafening music in the background, I was amused by the sight of young boys wrapped with crimson red plastic strips gifting red roses to people. As the crooning and jiving continued in the backdrop, I inched closer towards the bemused crowd that had gathered around the boys and overheard them explaining with passion the pangs of pain they felt seeing the apathy of people around them towards the increasing litter, the abusive use of plastic in everyday life and its reckless disposal on streets. And then they dramatically offered those carrying Aplastic bags a red rose wrapped in plastic, the receivers either blushed or squinted with incomprehension (or shame?!).

But who are these young boys?

The conceptual artists of this installation performance are graduates of J.J. College, Mumbai. Rohan Panchal, Aditya Sakharkar, Sushant Pohekar and Pranav Dubbey felt strongly for the cause of environmental conservation. With the recent Copenhagen summit and the controversial comments of R.K. Pachori (IPCC), their loud statement about the need to limit our consumption of plastic is bang on. What jolted them into action with the hope of bringing more people to act on this pressing issue was the sight of narrow by lanes of Mumbai strewn with plastic bags everywhere, choking the gutters, feeding the animals and dirtying the area; Pohekar said, "the litter is repulsive and harmful for the ecological balance and during the rains, it throws up its ugly head…a cow at Bharat Mata was found with 70 kg of plastic in her stomach" since India is also fondly called Bharat Mata, they realized the reality of that lane held true for Mumbai and the rest of India! It was a clarion call… So on 8 February, they became part of the installation performance, with a sad smile and withering roses enveloped with a transparent plastic sheet, "it is a sweet taunt, you know" Panchal smiled. The title of this installation was also deliberately ironic, it was entitled 'Thank-you for your contribution'.

What was interesting about this installation performance was the high level of interaction it promoted due to its very nature. As throngs of people walked past, some inevitably stopped by due to the curiosity. Some asked questions, others sneered and walked away. But the dialogue that was created with the public was present at several different levels, for some it acted as a reminder, for others it worked as an awareness campaign. But there was communication, direct and passive. Jangoo Motafran, a peon for instance said he "had never seen something like this and was drawn to it due to the novelty factor", he added that he used cotton bags for shopping "since the government has banned the use of plastic" but in an aside, when questioned about the sustainability of such efforts, he said "plastic was very convenient so the campaign might not work." This throws up a few questions- Is this form of communication effective? Will it bring in change? Another by stander, Shivaji Kakde, a government official stopped by, his eyes gleaming with curiosity and asked whether this was "something related to Gutka promotion ?", Dubbey shrugged and said that the content of the red plastic was not meant to be part of the communication they were conveying! In his defense he said, this mode of communication was better than "banners which promote a passive reception of information and was not effective enough to get people to 'DO' something about the cause". Revathi Krishnan, a reporter for the online newspaper thought it would be effective as "Kala Ghoda attracted lots of people, creating a good platform for interaction to reach out to a lot of people". She however felt that "many people would not follow it by their own free will, it would require enforcement then only would it translate into action. Also exploring other modes of communication like cartoons would be effective. Cartoons invade the lives of young kids and if such awareness campaigns were taken up by the makers of iconic comic heroes like Superman and Batman then the message would be lodged in the minds of the future of the country, having a long lasting impact." Shabbir Beguwala, a liaison officer in a construction company however sneered at them and asked, "What are the alternatives available? Paper bags also disturb the ecological balance." Although this installation could have been more researched and organized, it remains an important effort in the larger cause of creating awareness about global warming that looms large over us.

"There is will be a time when silence will become a crime"

Martin Luther King's famous quote is worth remembering here. Although international board meetings are making a beeline to make a breakthrough in creating awareness about ecological concerns, the importance of individual participation for the cause cannot be underscored. Small actions sometimes speak louder than words. And given the urgency and enormity of issue at hand, we can no longer afford to remain silent.


‘Introspection of the human nature’ is how we can recapitulate ‘Mask’, an installation by the Grey Black group at Kala Ghoda festival, 2010. As one enters the festival through the main gate (opposite to the David Sussun library) they will not miss the colour full mask wall. There are more than 150 masks, hanging on a black cloth wall. The masks are colourful and vibrant. Each mask different from the other, yet look so similar. The wall replicates our world and the masks tell us something about our own selves. The theme is very interesting as the meaning will differ from person. As the saying goes, ‘beauty holds in the eyes of beholder’, here it is something like, ‘meaning holds in the self of the spectator’.

The new version of saying is proved when one interacts with a few viewers standing there. Shahid, a third year student says, “For me, the masks symbolises human nature. Each one of us hides its original face from others. They wear the mask that suites the occasion.” While on the other hand Riya, a housewife, said, “For me the masks suggest that how we cover our real beauty behind tons of makeup in order to look beautiful according to the norms set by others.” Talking with two different people coming from various backgrounds gives us an idea about how one looks at the installation. It is not propagating any cause, but it makes one look within his/her own self and question themselves about how many masks do they wear?

If the installation is so engaging, then the artist would have defiantly put in so much of efforts to build this concept. But here, there is not just one artist on work. It is a joint effort by a group called Grey Black. It consists of four artists namely, Yuvraj, Deepali, Rishi and Santosh. Rishi was available on the venue interacting with people and solving their queries. On asking him about the concept, he gave a surprising answer. He said, “The masks are based on various ‘Rashis’. Even when we meet someone for the first time, we ask them what their sunsign is! Or at times we say that XYZ is an Aries, this is their common traits. So we classify people and categories them according to the Rashis or Sunsigns.” On telling him that various people can associate philosophical as well as psychological meanings out of the installation, he said, “We have not made it with just one perspective. Rashis is the basic theme on which we have worked, but the subject itself has so many different perspective that it is bound to happen.” He also added, “I am very happy that the installation makes people think and not just admire it.”

But even the artist wears a mask when questioned, “Why did you choose Rashis as your theme?” He smiles sheepishly and says, “When we make things based on Rashis, they sell. People find some reason to buy them and not just admire them.”

The installation is truly unique as the masks have not even spared their makers. Though they are artists, educated from the famous JJ School of Arts, even they cannot avoid the monitory factor. The point made by Rishi needs some serious thinking, he said, “money has become a driving force in everybody’s life. Whether it is an artist or a non artist, they need money to survive. It depends on the artist whether he can survive by a few good words written by the critique about his art without taking into consideration the monitory aspect.”

Masks and more masks… the world is full of them… masks made of flesh and blood… without any emotions… Masks and all the more masks…