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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry: A intellectual carnival

<p>The twenty-first century is blowing up in our faces with its never-ending conflicts, polarization of civilizations, horrific violence, and suffering of people. Can the intense terror that some of us experience be replaced by theater performances, art fairs, film festivals, and literary events? Do the artistic celebrations turn into a brief escape from the mind-numbing violence that permeates our environment?</p>
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<p>In what way are festivals organized? Is it buying exotica, exploring other cultures, or, as some cynics put it, engaging in cultural trafficking? Or is there a true need to go outside of comfort zone, to trust one’s own judgment, to experience something strange and foreign?</p>
<p>Festivals let us reimagine reality as more than just a concept; it’s an experience that we can taste and feel. As such, they may be considered a magnificent diversion from every day and a break from the routine of life. Hopefully, this calms tense nerves and strengthens our belief in life. I often wonder whether this is just a case of momentary forgetfulness since art may be harsh and brutal, reflecting back to us what we are attempting to ignore.</p>
<p>People congregate in this charged space, which may be found in a community center, warehouse, or even in a person’s heart, to discuss and work out opposing realities. This turns into a forum where brave people discuss blazing truths via performances, music, dance, and visual media.</p>
<p>There are two effects of the art world: discord and resonance. They sometimes overlap, split off, and loop in various directions, but metaphors and symbols allow them to become untangled.</p>
<p>After seeing Deepan Sivaraman’s “Ubu Roi,” an Alfred Jarry play from 1896, at a Thrissur festival, I could see why the piece was regarded as a forerunner of Dadaism, surrealism, and futuristic theater. There was so much wild roguishness in this poem. Both film and the visual arts were impacted by the upending of all established conventions and cultural standards. He paved the way for modernism as we know it today.</p>
<p>I was a student in Delhi in the middle of the 1970s, and we looked forward to the Shriram Shankarlal Music Festival with great anticipation. On August 15, 1947, when India first felt the breeze of independence, it began as a festivity. This specific party, which had musicians and dancers, was scheduled to take place at a private Delhi home. An unplanned dance and song performance broke out between chairs and tables in an impromptu show of delight, symbolizing not only the freedom from colonialism’s bonds but also the spirit of Azadi, an expression of free minds. The music festival began during the period of independence and still captivates crowds in Delhi today.</p>
<p>I’ve seen that, particularly in these technologically advanced times, film festivals, literary festivals, art fairs, and theater festivals may act as catalysts to break through our inner feelings of emotional isolation. Social networking is becoming the primary means of communication for most people. Does conversation arise when you watch a play, movie, or other piece of art? Regardless of whether they agree with the message the film is attempting to convey or not, I have seen strangers bond at festivals. This kind of conversation only arises when we go to the theater, the movies, or other creative forms in a group. And it’s this conversation that inspires me, depresses me, makes me laugh, or moves me to fervent defense. People start conversing with one another out of the blue, their phones still tucked inside their purses or pants pockets. There is communication, there are pauses, and there is eye contact. A festival offers a forum for thought-provoking, creative, and incisive dialogue on the past and the present.</p>
<p>Chandigarh is a beautifully planned city with plenty of enchanted areas that may be used for pop concerts, poetry readings, odd art galleries, and performance venues. Whether in an underground parking lot, an evocative fissure under the many secret bridges, or the lush green parks, I find strange architectural wonders on my nighttime travels about the city, all just begging to be turned into improvised art spaces.</p>
<p>Who is a festival intended for and why does it enthrall us? I wonder how people flock to festivals during these difficult times. What occurs when we go into a literary, visual, or performing arts festival? Are we embarking on an internal journey at the same time as we are attempting to make sense of and find answers regarding the outer world? The quest is there, even if I’m not sure I have the answers.</p>
<p>Festivals has the transformational ability to inspire us to raise our heads, eyes, minds, and hearts, exclaiming, “Hey, let’s explore each other’s worlds!”</p>
<p>Recently, I had a unique experience at a theater festival with a documentary play from Palestine that was created in partnership with Tel Aviv-based Israeli writer Einat Weizman on the topic of “How to Make Revolution.” It was a biting account of artists uniting in a common pain and a brutal testament to an enduring sense of truth in the face of powerful and complicated circumstances. I pragmatistically wondered how the Palestinian protester and the Israeli dramatist obtained their visas and coordinated their travels as they acted out a fake trial.</p>
<p>Art festivals, such as the Festival d’Avignon, the Jaipur Literature Festival, or Serendipity in Goa, possess a similar vibrancy to holidays like Diwali or Xmas, but their duration is limited. Exhaustion ensues once a saturation threshold is reached. Fortunately, “Fuego Rojo,” a Chilean play that blended circus, acrobatics, and carnivalesque elements, brought my recent experience at the Thrissur festival to an exciting close. It was also quite political. A rustic opera that dazzled the audience and myself with its daring and dexterity, appearing like a mirage.</p>
<p>Festivals are more than just a place for performers and attendees to come together. These serve as a vivid example of the storytelling’s power, a fabric fashioned from the strands of inclusiveness and diversity. Every festival is fundamentally based on the notion that the arts have the power to alter, and that this potential is best realized in a festival environment. Artists gather in this temporary setting like migrating birds, collaborating in a spirit that cuts across barriers of language, culture, and country to serve as a potent reminder of our common humanity.</p>

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