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Free translations of a great poet’s work

Free translations of a great poet’s work

Photo-Poetry is an exhibition, which, as the name suggests, brings together two art forms. A part of the ongoing art exhibition ‘Senosrium’ being held at Sunaparanta Goa Centre of Arts, Altinho, Panaji, it is a tribute to Mexican poet-diplomat and former Ambassador of Mexico to India, Octavio Paz. In conversation with NT BUZZ, Jesús Clavero-Rodríguez, who has curated the exhibition, speaks about the project and more

BY ARTI DAS | NT BUZZ

A real understanding of art comes when boundaries between different art forms blur. For those that understand the unlimited dimensions of such presentations, the ongoing art exhibition ‘Senosrium’ being held at Sunaparanta Goa Centre of Arts, Altinho, Panaji is presenting an exhibition of photographic images interwoven with words that promise to expand one’s imagination, which is only one of the several art shows on view exploring the intersection between photography and other mediums: literature, cinema and installation art.

The exhibition titled ‘Photo-Poetry’, curated by Jesús Clavero-Rodríguez, comprises of a series of dialogues interlinking photography and Latin American poetry. These poems in Spanish were penned by Octavio Paz, a Mexican poet-diplomat who was also the former Ambassador of Mexico to India (1962 to 1968). Paz was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in the year 1990. This exhibition has been brought by the Embassy of Mexico in India and Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi.

“Paz was born in March 1914, and 2014 marks his birth centenary year.  That is how I came to conceptualise this exhibition where I have brought together his poems and photo images. And I wanted to show it in India because this country held a special place in his heart. Paz was deeply influenced by India. He even got married in New Delhi under a neem tree. He also wrote book on India, ‘In Light of India’”, says Rodríguez of Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi.

In this exhibition Rodríguez has selected seven of Paz’s poems, which are mainly about India, and has complimented them with photographs of three photographers from India: Subrata Biswas, Adil Hasan and Sudeep Sen. According to Rodríguez the photographs act as a visual translation for Paz’s poems.

“Whenever we read a poem, images are formed in our mind and when we look at a picture, we think of words to describe it”, says Rodríguez, explaining why he chose to use photos to visually interpret Paz’s poetry.

Rodríguez, who worked on this project for months together, says that he personally selected the photographers and their works keeping in mind their relevance to the poems. “Subrata’s work is more real whereas Adil’s is more abstract”, says Rodríguez.

Even though this art exhibition is designed in a way to give direct information about the poetry, albeit through photographs, the intention of the curator is not as simple as that. He also looks to develop a visual conflict between the onlooker’s vision and his. “When an onlooker looks at pictures or reads these poems, he/she may have some other image-word association. This will give rise to conflict, and that’s what I need. There is no one way to look at the art form. A piece of art should help you develop aesthetics, emotions, etc, and I think this exhibition will help one develop just that”, says Rodríguez.

Rodríguez, who has been exposed to the Indian art scenario for the last four years says that art viewership is growing, which is a good sign. “Indian art has always grown as this country has one of the best artists and art forms. I have witnessed an increased art attention in India over the last four years that I have been in India. Also, today, art has become more accessible and Indians have become increasingly open to new art forms”, says Rodríguez.

(The exhibition ‘Photo Poetry’ is on till February 5 at Sunaparanta Goa Centre of Arts, Altinho, Panaji.)

 

MORE ABOUT PAZ

Paz was introduced to literature early in his life through the influence of his grandfather’s library that was filled with classic Mexican and European literature. During the 1920s, he discovered European poets Gerardo Diego, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Antonio Machado. These Spanish writers had a great influence on his early writings. As a teenager, in 1931, Paz published his first poems including ‘Cabellera’. In 1937, Paz was invited to the Second International Writers Congress in Defense of Culture in Spain during the country’s civil war, showing his solidarity with the Republican side and against fascism. In 1952, he travelled to India for the first time and, in the same year, to Tokyo, as chargé d’affaires, and then to Geneva, in Switzerland. He returned to Mexico City in 1954 where he wrote his great poem ‘Piedra de sol’ (‘Sunstone’) in 1957 and ‘Libertad bajo palabra’ (Liberty under Oath), a compilation of his poetry up to that time. He was sent again to Paris in 1959. In 1962 he was named as Mexico’s ambassador to India.

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