The fifth edition of the ArtEast Festival, conceptualised to present the contemporary status of India’s Northeast region and its surroundings, focuses on narrative art practices. Titled Tell Me a Story, ArtEast 2021 will be held virtually on the India International Centre’s website (iicdelhi.in), and is organised in association with New Imaginations, Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, O.P. Jindal Global University.
The festival, curated by Kishalay Bhattacharjee, Professor and Executive Dean of the Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, documents the art of storytelling through paintings, illustrations, photo collages, film screenings and talks/discussions that go beyond the NE region. “Art has always been a major part of storytelling. The Pattachitra, for example, depicts episodes from mythology, religion and folklore. Bards of Rajasthan’s Phad scroll, the Garoda picture-tellers in Gujarat, the Chitrakathis of Maharashtra, all follow the same practice,” says Bhattacharjee, pointing out that stories were told through motifs on cloth, as is seen in found objects in and around Nagaland.
“Most of our traditional art practices were originally storytelling rituals with pictures and performances. But with time, these took a backseat or vanished. Through this festival, we want to revive the interest in these art forms, and reinterpret them using the tools of new media,” explains Bhattacharjee.
The festival includes an illustrated lecture series by Founder-Trustee of Craft Revival Trust Ritu Sethi titled Intriguing Tale of the Pattachitra Pictures of Bengal and Other Concerns (August 13) and another by Culture Conservationist Sentila Tsukjem Yanger titled Stories of Warp and Weft on August 14. It will showcase five films (short films and documentaries) on traditional arts and artists, on YouTube till August 15. A virtual exhibition depicting art as storytelling is on view till August 22.
The works comprise Pattachitra paintings, photographic collages and painting by Isaac Tseten Gergen, Naga Hills illustrations by Sirawon Tulisen Khathing from Shillong, A Cherry Blossom Reverie by Rachel Lyngdoh, collated art by Siddhartha Das, photographs by Parasher Baruah on the lives of migrant workers in Mumbai and a video installation by Baruah Ubhotoni, among others.