By Siddhi Jain
Panaji, Dec 15 (IANS) The western coast of the Goan capital is abuzz with conversations over different streams of art, as 13 locations here sprawled across Mandovi’s shoreline opened their gates for the third edition of the Serendipity Arts Festival 2018 on Saturday.
With free shuttle services and free entry into most events, the festival, which hosts over 90 projects curated by 14 noted curators, seems to be a hit among the visitors, with hundreds having visited the festival’s venues on its first day of opening.
The multidisciplinary festival aims to bring art out of gallery and museum spaces alone, and has chosen public spaces like the Kala Academy, Children’s Park and the Adil Shah Palace — places already frequented by the public for cultural events — to encourage viewership and engagement.
The eight-day affair presents a multitude of voices from the artistic and curatorial communities in genres like music, theatre, dance, photography, visual arts, culinary arts, and crafts.
Many of the exhibitions in the visual arts, photography, and crafts genres, mounted in the venues opened for the public on Saturday and will run till its closing on December 22.
What stole the show on the first day, however, was a theatrical rendition of the age-old epic Mahabharata, delivered with humour and wit. Dramatised through puppets, masks, and shadow puppetry, together with intriguing acoustic accompaniment, it saw a houseful under the open sky of the coastal city.
The labyrinthine exhibitory spaces, falling in line with the festival’s core idea, put the focus on the viewers and allow them to navigate through spaces as visitors, just as many creative traditions of the festival find a voice in the multi-cultural hub Goa is.
Often-overlooked objects, like the ‘charpai’, Indian handicraft items, and photographs as documents of the personal and political, form part of the festival and are a must-see.
Street art interventions in the form of murals and painted signboards, by arts organisation St+Art Foundation hold attention as visitors walk to different venues only minutes away from each other.
What’s also interesting is a focus on the local traditions of the state hosting the festival, with exhibitions showcasing Goan crafts and architecture, early Hindustani musical recordings by Goan musicians, and a contemporary art show on Goa’s Portuguese connection — “the most dominating chapter of Goan history”.
Apart from performances by seasoned Indian classical music and dance practitioners, a contemporary twist of electro funk, hip-hop, rap and jazz music will greet the festival audiences.
The festival recently garnered controversy regarding a curator who “stepped back” from the festival in the light of an anonymous #MeToo allegations made against him on Instagram.
The Serendipity Arts Foundation chairman and founder Sunil Kant Munjal, refused to comment on it when asked for a statement. He, however, iterated the position of the Foundation as “neutral” and “fair”.
“It wants to be fair, it wants to do the right thing, it wants to be a platform where creative individuals, organisations and institutions feel freedom and feel welcomed to come and work,” he told IANS.
The festival concludes on December 22 with a musical performance by multi-awards winning Bollywood composer Clinton Cerejo, presented by Coke Studio.
(Siddhi Jain is in Goa on invitation by organisers of the Serendipity Arts Festival. She can be contacted at [email protected])