Serendipity Arts Foundation showcased three projects from the Serendipity Arts Festival 2019, Goa at India Art Fair 2020 taking place from 30 January – 2 February at NSIC, Okhla (Delhi). Along with this, the Foundation showcased a series of short clips of performance art projects from the recently concluded festival in December 2019, as well as publications materials from the Foundation.

Showcased Projects

Crosstalk, 2019 
Farah Mulla 

Crosstalk is an interactive installation that explores the subjective connections between the audience, space, sound and colour vibrations, visualised by a tangible medium. Sound and movements are translated and bathe the viewer in shards of emissive light with seemingly omnipotent force, obscuring all external stimuli and creating a mise en abyme experience for the viewer. Assuming the form of an ambiphonic gateway, visitors are invited into their own atmospheric world ranging from moments of synesthetic quality to moments of dissonance. This interplay between the present forces creates a heightened sensory awareness that is syncopated through the individual’s own movements. Resonances unfold and shape the temporal and spatial dimension, oblivious of any distractions caused by instantaneous visual events. Space-ambiophony comes into existence with the immersive dominance of a resonant soundscape, and the continuous unfolding of sustained and hovering frequencies. Crosstalk explores the space in between, the sensory thresholds where harmony might not be present in the environment but fabricated by our cognition. 

Farah Mulla was among the four artists selected to participate in Dharti Arts Residency 2019—an annual artists’ residency conducted by Serendipity Arts Foundation. Conceptualised as an intensive, studio-based residency for emerging artists, Dharti provides its residents space and resources to develop their practice, work on a new project—which is showcased in an Open Studio at the Foundation Space C340, New Delhi and further at the Serendipity Arts Festival in Panjim, Goa. 

Colonial Times, 2019  
Achia Anzi  
LED text installation

Conceived as a site-specific installation for Urban Reimagined 2.0 at Serendipity Art Festival 2019, Goa 
Curated by Ravi Agarwal   

Colonial Times is a text-based project which is composed of extracts from five poems written by five different poets: the Jewish philosopher, Judah Leon Abravanel (1460 – 1530) who was expelled from Spain in 1492, the nationalist Indian poet of Portuguese origin, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (1809 –1831), the Martiniqian poet, Aimé Césaire (1913 –2008), who was one of the founders of the Negritude movement, the Romanian Jewish poet and Holocaust survivor, Paul Celan (1920 – 1970), and the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish (1941 –2008).  While the poems belong to different times and diverse spaces, they were all conceived from the margins of modernity and responded to the experience and logic of colonialism and coloniality. Furthermore, they all take issue, and not accidentally, with the notion of time.   

The collage form of Colonial Times imitates the apparatus of colonial aesthetics. While the latter uproots and displaces artworks belonging to diverse cultures and forces them into universal categories such as aesthetics, art and literature, the poem provides a mirror image of modernity. Instead of a universal narrative of progress, the poem proposes a collective poesies of suffering narrated by those who inhabit the flip side of modernity:  the Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in 1492, the Martinique island which was “discovered” by Columbus in the following year, and the Subcontinent which was first colonised by the Portuguese at the turn of the sixteenth century. The logic that enabled the segregation of the Jews (and the Muslims) from the Christians in post-Reconquista Spain and Portugal was replicated, as Ella Shohat and Robert Stam contend, in the “New World” and justified the colonial expansion of Europe far and wide. This process culminated, Shohat and Stam argue, in the Holocaust of the European Jews, and persists nowadays not only in the form of Western economic and cultural domination, but also in the dispossession of various communities such as the Palestinians.   

 If coloniality, as Aníbal Quijano and Walter Mignolo forcefully argue, is the dark side of modernity, the later obsession with time and its insistence on its own contemporaneity (while portraying other cultural forms as archaic and not adequately modern) prepared the ground for both political and cultural oppression. In a nutshell, the spatial colonial expansion was (and is) facilitated by the colonization of time. 

With special thanks to Arnika Ahldag, Ravi Agarwal, Chana Anzi, Menashe Anzi, Ihab Balha, Sonam Chaturvedi, Laurence Gautier and Rabbi Levi Sudri. 

Urban Reimagined 2.0 is a continuation of Ravi Agarwal’s curatorial enquiry into the varied imaginaries and topographies of the urban. 

Achia Anzi is a multimedia artist who takes inspiration from books, objects, people, and ideas. Whether through his installations, sculptures or video work, Anzi often attempts to portray not only his own feelings but also the crisis experienced by his home country, Israel. Anzi has participated at India Art Fair 2019, along with other selected shows including Nimrod’s Descendants curated by Gideon Ofrat, Artist House, Jerusalem (2011), Peaceful be your return O lovely bird, from warm lands back to my window, Threshold Art Gallery, New Delhi (2012), as well as Jerusalem Biennale (2017) and Yinchuan Biennale (2016) in recent years. Colonial Times was recently presented at the Serendipity Arts Festival (2019).

Look Outside This House
Curated by Sudarshan Shetty

This project aims to present indigenous inventions and informal industries that have origins in catering to real life circumstantial needs with lasting social impact on communities at large. The exhibition, showcased at Serendipity Arts Festival 2019, highlighted the need to support and nurture various indigenous approaches for the production of knowledge that sit outside the framework of mainstream institutions, and bring forth the organic evolutions or trajectories of institutions that are mainly dependent on alternate transmission of knowledge and thus, dependent on human relationships. A selection of works from the larger exhibition were showcased at India Art Fair 2020. 

Bombay Lokal is one of the first hip hop collectives from the northern suburbs of Mumbai. The group was founded with a vision of uniting the youth, spreading socio-political awareness and providing a platform for street artists. Bombay Lokal’s music is as a mouthpiece for minorities in urban India. The collective also runs a local apprenticeship program to make sure that right knowledge and culture are passed on to the succeeding generation. 

Dalariti Kharnaior is a folk singer from Shillong who is currently pursuing her Masters in Music. Dalariti believes that Khasi folk songs and their messages are relevant today is actively working towards preserving them. 

Megha Sriram is a singer whose practice involves reviving traditional folk music in collaboration with the tribal communities of Jharkhand. These folk songs are unique in that they are inspired by Gandhian philosophy and are like an oral codex for the local way of life for the particular community. Sriram has also worked with women in prisons in an effort to improve their living conditions and mental well being through music. 

Ashok Kamble is a Dalit shahir from Mumbai. He specialises in performing improvised folk songs about caste based struggles, oppression and violence in Indian society. Kamble’s lyrics draw inspiration from mythology, politics and his day to day life to build bold and poignant narratives about the daily battles against injustice and subjugation of the Dalit community 

‘Miyah’, an Urdu word meaning “Gentleman,” has been bastardised in Assam as a derogatory slur for Bengali origin muslims, who live on the river plains and islands of the Brahmaputra and are largely treated as second class citizens. The Miyah poets are writing verse in their own dialect, chronicling violence, discrimination, apathy and the threat of statelessness due to the changing sociopolitical climate in India. 

Kalpana Mali is a folk singer from Sangli, Maharashtra who specialises in singing the Powada, a traditional ballad form used to narrate historic and heroic events. Mali has and restructured the art form and applied it to spread awareness about social issues affecting herself, family and community through extensive performances.