Art East 2021, that started as a way to represent the art from India’s Northeast, is now going beyond regions to trace the lineage of performing and visual arts
In an initiative to raise pertinent questions through intersections in art, livelihood, social justice, climate change, communication, history – past and present – Art East Festival is back with its fifth edition.
This year’s edition of ‘Art East 2021: Tell me a Story’ will be held as a virtual festival. Curated by Kishalay Bhattacharjee, it is a virtual documentation of a very strong and sustained element of art-storytelling. Through paintings, illustrations, photo collages, visual poetry, dance, cinema and conversations, Art East 2021 is an attempt to understand and reinterpret narrative art practices.
“The intersection of art and storytelling is part of Indian art tradition. The tellers of these tales were not only artists but carriers of knowledge. The Patachitra or narrative scroll painting of Bengal for example depict episodes from mythology, religion and folklore. The various versions of the epics provide rich content,” Bhattacharjee shares.
Launched in 2017, Art East is a fringe art festival presenting emerging and leading local and international artists in all genres of the performing and visual arts. In the last 4 years, the festival has commissioned and produced over thirty-five local productions across genres including theatre, music, cinema, expositions and installations.
The festival began as an attempt to present India’s Northeast region and its neighbourhood from a more contemporary perspective. The project now seeks to go beyond the region and trace the lineage of art and narrative practices that defy geography and has been at odds to endure and sustain. It partners with amateur and professional artists to produce fringe art and invests in arts education for young people.
“Art East 2021, a virtual festival invokes art as storytelling and showcases a slice of folk/traditional craft and contemporary art that were originally storytelling rituals with a visual and performative aspect that over time became a practice. Many such practices today suffer from lack of patronage or support and have either succumbed to commercial pressures or have slowly faded to the margins. Some have disappeared. This is an effort to revive our interest through an understanding and reinterpretation of art that tells a story,” says the curator.
The exhibition features works by Prakash Patra, Pattachitra artist from Bhubaneswar; photographic collages and painting by Isaac Tseten Gergen from Ladakh. Illustrations by Sirawon Tulisen Khathing from Shillong with texts by Rachel Lyngdoh; crafting stories by Siddhartha Das and photographs and video installation by Parasher Baruah.
The festival can be accessed on the website of India International Centre till August 14; the exhibition is on view till August 22