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Exploring Goan heritage

Indian Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in collaboration with Goa Chitra Museum is organising two exhibitions, ‘Unravelling Stories’ and ‘Layers’ curated by Lina Vincent and Aparajita Bhasin, respectively. NT BUZZ in conversation with the curators


If you are an art lover, get set to witness two unique exhibitions titled ‘Unravelling Stories’ and ‘Layers’ which will open on July 14 at Carpe Diem Gallery and Goa Chitra Museum, respectively. The exhibitions organised by Indian Foundation for the Arts (IFA) in collaboration  withGoa Chitra Museum will give viewers a chance to experience the museum’s collection from new perspectives.

The two exhibitions are a result of the IFA Archival Museum Fellowships received by curators Lina Vincent and Aparajita Bhasin, and which were introduced to enhance the capacity of the museum to reach out to an audience as well as to theorise the collections already existing. The fellowships were made possible with support from Tata Trusts.

Unravelling Stories

Vincent, the curator of ‘Unravelling Stories’, has been working with artists engaged with researching their Goan roots and the context of preservation of material culture and social history. For instance, she has worked on exhibitions like ‘Morphology of Archive’ – connected histories of Goa, an international exhibition exploring the varied histories of Goa at MOG, co-curated with Sabitha Sachi along with Subodh Kerkar (2016). She also curated an exhibition for the Goenchi Mati Movement, with several artists showcasing work on the mining situation and its aftermath in Goa.

 As part of this fellowship, she had to familiarise herself with Victor Hugo Gomes’ collection at Goa Chitra Museum, develop a plan for outreach events and workshops, and also actively engage the material so as to introduce it to other participants, like the artists invited to be part of the exhibition.

The exhibition ‘Unravelling Stories’, brings together the artworks of 12 artists who were invited by Vincent to engage with the Goa Chitra collection. The artworks are a result of their multilayered exploration of varied aspects of the material culture of the objects. While some artists have connected with experiences of identity and belonging, others have interpreted personal and collective memory, or developed commentaries on heritage, its loss and preservation.

Artists like Divesh Gadekar and Rajaram Naik have explored the notion of time and the living empathy of objects, while John A Pereira, Kalpit Gaonkar, and Clarice Vaz have explored collective memory and the loss of heritage. Kausalya Gadekar and Antara Mukherji identify with gender roles in the kitchen, and bring about two different viewpoints on the aspects of cooking implements; Ramdas Gadekar, Sachin Naik, and Pritesh Naik mull on nostalgia and technological changes in our times, while the works of Yolanda Desousa, Mekhlla Harrison, Loretti Pinto, Anjum Chaturvedi and Ekaterina Abramova (from the Goa Chitra Collection) elucidate notions of belonging and displacement, ecological grief, oral histories, philosophical connections of time and space.

Vincent has been interacting and working with many of the artists in the exhibition over the past years and is familiar with their work and their concerns – many of them are keen on the preservation of Goan heritage and communicate it through their works. Thus, she says that it was a natural process to invite some of these artists to be part of this exhibition. “Secondly, a lot of them had never visited this museum, and it was a good way to connect them with the pathbreaking work that Victor has done over the last two decades in collecting objects and setting up the space,” adds Vincent.

The presentation of the exhibition includes drawings and paintings, photography, multimedia installations, and documentation of the workshop engagements that took place at Goa Chitra. The exhibition also showcases works from three workshops that Vincent had with students over the fellowship period.

In unravelling multiple stories, the artists and Vincent together have tried to draw attention to Goan identity: the land, her people, and a sense of belonging that comes from learning to love her history and culture. 

 “The fellowship with Goa Chitra gave me the opportunity to further my explorations of local history and cultural practices,” says Vincent, who believes that contemporary art practices should go hand in hand with tradition and should feed off each other, as evolving, creative systems. “Unfortunately we have a severe situation of categorisation and segregation that prevents the symbiosis, and alienates one from the other. The exhibition is a small attempt to bring together these ideas, for a public, that are already very much part of the ecosystem,” she says.

Vincent further states that in a way this particular project continues in some ways what Victor has already begun by inviting artists to residencies where they observe and create from experiences in rural Goa. A few of the artists work from his collection are also part of the show like Mekhlla Harrison and Loretti Pinto.

(‘Unravelling Stories’ will open on July 14 at Carpe Diem, Majorda and will be on display from July 16 to 19 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ‘Layers’ will open on July 14 at Goa Chitra, and will be on display from July 15 to 17 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

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