Panaji, 26th December 2022: Over the past eight days, the city of Panaji resonated with the sights, sounds and myriad moods of the arts from across the South Asian region and the globe. Strains of music filled the air while discerning audiences watched experimental theatre, browsed books and paintings that showcased the region’s cultural heritage, celebrated with artists and revelled in the immersive experience of the fifth physical edition of the Serendipity Art Festival.
Organised for nine days and spread across 14+ venues with over 170+ programs, and more than 1000 artists, the Serendipity Art Festival was held in association with GMR and supported by the Government of Goa, the Corporation of The City of Panaji, the Directorate of Art and Culture, Goa, the Entertainment Society of Goa, the Goa Tourism Department, and the Goa Forest Department, along with Technology partner Microsoft and Logistics Partner Delhivery.
The programming for this edition was spread across Exhibitions, Performances, Workshops, Public Arts, Children’s programming, Talks & Book launches, and much more.
The Exhibition segment was curated by Sudarshan Shetty, Veerangana Solanki, Anjana Somany, Pramod Kumar KG, with special projects like Somewhere Ethereal by Mathieu Wothke and Terra Nullius: Excavations from Image 3.0 by Pascal Beausse and Rahaab Allana, along with Goa Familia by Lina Vincent and Akshay Mahajan. The festival also had other exciting special projects like 4×4: Four Galleries, Four Voices, represented by four galleries in Delhi (Shrine Empire and GallerySKE), Kolkata (Experimenter), and Mumbai (TARQ) showcasing current artistic practices from across the region. Some other exciting projects include a special archival exhibition by Dr. Jyotindra Jain and Jutta Jain-Neubauer.
The performance segment was curated by Bickram Ghosh and Ehsaan Noorani, who brought music from the far corners of the country and the world and experimented with its forms, causing powerful fusion performances. Quasar Thakore Padamsee, brought to the fore experimental theatre combining the classics and the postmodern screen plays along with children’s theatre in collaboration with Ranga Shankara’s “AHA! “Theatre for Children. Geeta Chandran and Mayuri Upadhya, curated a wide set of projects that had re-adaptations of Indian classics, contemporary themes and cultures.
Over eight days, the Serendipity Arts Festival sought to catalyse cross-cultural exchange, foster a sense of collaboration, and explore inter-disciplinarity in art forms whilst erasing regional divisions in the country. It also set up a platform that gave equal opportunities to artists, artisans, indigenous and folk-art forms, performers, and other creative practitioners from all over India and the South Asian region. The event also aimed to foster the development of thriving artistic communities across India by making the arts inclusive, educational, and accessible.
The festival used insights gleaned over the pandemic and introduced productions that were a blend of the digital and physical worlds. Through the Senses programming, the festival showed how art could be experienced and accessed by all; it reached out to audiences who usually get left out of the mainstream. For example, workshops were designed in a way that regardless of their disabilities, people could equally participate and engage in various creative activities; this ensured relief and ensured mental well-being, through the joy of creation. The festival also included guided tours, braille maquettes, ramps, and sign language interpreters.
The Goan public and culture enthusiasts visiting the city from across the world were treated to an impressive array of programming including ground-breaking films, digital art exhibitions from across the globe and craft installations that used space making to revive its practice and appeal. Audiences were also held in thrall by music performances from all corners of the country, along with experimental theatre, panel discussions, diverse culinary workshops and dance performances that brought together the traditional and the contemporary.
In addition to the thirteen other venues, The Arena at Nagalli Hills saw numerous people coming in from across Goa, the country, and the world to experience the many seminal acts. At the closing event, Mr. Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder & Patron of Serendipity Arts and the Founder of THE BRIJ, congratulated the curators and artists for their part in putting together an unprecedented fifth physical edition. He thanked the 300 plus dedicated volunteers from across educational institutions of Goa and across the country.“The Festival in its fifth physical edition has superseded our expectations and we are delighted to see the support we have received from our curators, the creative community, the authorities, and the people of Goa. We are glad that we could come back with an interdisciplinary festival like Serendipity that supports and creates opportunities and avenues for the arts and the artists of the entire region of South Asia and the world, through collaborations and exchanges,” he said.
He also referred to plans of a permanent residence for the region’s creative expressions: “We are also happy to announce that the arts and culture of our region will have a permanent home with the THE BRIJ, which will retain the aura of the flagship festival while adding multiple layers of practice, learning and experimentation to its programs, around the year. Planned around diverse creative practices, the facility will have arts education, incubation labs, centres of cultural innovation, performance spaces, and museums at a never-before-seen scale, in an interdisciplinary manner. In effect it will be the complete ecosystem for Arts & Culture at one place.”
A grand visual representation of the upcoming arts and culture centre was displayed on the giant screens at the Nagalli Hills Grounds, whilea captivating film captured the imagination of the creative community and members of the audience.
Ms. Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Foundation and Festival, said, “We are delighted to see and hear about the impact the festival has had in people’s lives and we are glad we are playing our part in spreading the magic of the arts. The festival would not have received its shape and form without the support of our curators, the artists and the contributions by the teams and our patrons. They are helping us edge towards our goal of making Panjim the cultural hub of the world.”
Explaining Diageo’s association with Serendipity, Ms. Shweta Jain, Chief Business Development Officer: Luxury, Reserve & Craft – India & South Asia said, “We are excited to partner with the Serendipity Arts Festival to celebrate artistic expression and bold choices. We have always been about inspiring creativity and our ethos of “Keep Walking” provides the perfect canvas to do just that.”
Speaking about being associated as a Logistics partner to the Festival, Rohan Shanbhag, SVP – Sales & Marketing, Delhivery, said, “Serendipity Arts Festival brings a 9-day extravaganza to Goa featuring craft, music, dance, theatre, visual and culinary arts embodying the vision of 15 eminent curators. The festival not only promotes creativity but also saves heritage art forms. We are delighted to be the logistics partner for Serendipity Arts Festival 2022.”
The Highlights of the Day included Swallow, Curated by Quasar Thakore Padamsee with Arghya Lahiri directing and designing the light of the production, and produced by G5A Forum and Blackboxers Productions – An Amateur production by Arrangement with Nick Hern Books; this was an experimental theatre where three strangers face their demons head-on. Their lives collide, and they might be able to save one another. The audience loved the suspense and histrionics of the play. In Jo Dooba So Paar, presented at The Theatre in the Old GMC complex, the play dealt with the story of Ameer Khusrau and Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya through anecdotes and tales woven in a Daastaan, accompanied by live Qawwali singing. The Arena at Nagalli Hills Ground reverberated with Trance Effect – a Spotlight Indie & Folk Music Showcase, curated by Ehsaan Noorani, featuring the eponymous independent pop-rock band from Dimapur. The audience was left spellbound after watching The Money Opera; an immersive theatre production created as a site-specific project commissioned by Serendipity Arts Foundation. The show was conceptualised and directed by Amitesh Grover and housed in a 5-story abandoned building; it contained songs and stories of ambition, guilt, fear, desire, love, community, and many others that reveal the nature of contemporary society—what it keeps hidden, oppressed, and buried. On the final day, the sunset cruise, River Raag, curated by Bickram Ghosh, featured Shaoni Mojumdar singing Thumri, accompanied by Raya Korgaonkar in Harmonium and Abir Mukherjee in Tabla. There were many footfalls for the Silent Art Workshop: Just Do Nothing! an unprecedented workshop that encouraged participants to do nothing and sit in stillness. It was a fascinating experiment that taught audiences how to let silence surge softly around us while introspecting. The Serendipity Arts Festival Finale featuring Amit Trivedi had the audience swaying and singing his hits like Fitoor, Sham Hai koi, Zinda from the film Lootera and all the other incredible numbers, along with the stupendous singer-songwriter his co-singers and band. A befitting grand finale!
As the curtains come down on the fifth physical edition, the 365-day countdown for the sixth edition has begun.
The official hashtag for the year 2022 is #MeetMeAtSerendipity.