“Art to me is…imagination”


…says executive director of art festival, Sensorium, Isheta Salgaocar
By Anuradha Das | NT BUZZ
Interestingly, both you and Sensorium, the festival of arts, literature and ideas, make your debut today. As the executive producer of this ambitious venture of Sunaparanta, the Centre for the Arts, tell us a little about the festival and you involvement with it.
This is indeed my first direct involvement with Sunaparanta, and I hope the first of many years to come.
I am absolutely honoured to be part of Sensoirum. We have a strong set of artists, and a terrific team putting the whole show together led by our honorary director Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi and creative director Prashant Panjiar. To have artists like Dayanita Singh show original work while Jeet Thayil performs on his guitar under the stars is a once in a life time experience, and today is just the opening night.
Whose brainchild is the festival and how and why did it come to be conceived?
Sensorium is the brainchild of our honorary director Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi and my father, Dattaraj Salgaocar. There was a desire in early 2014 to set up an art festival in the heart of Goa to serve as a crossroads for artists and audience to share ideas around art, literature, history, photography, and film.
The festival has an interesting and impressive line up of participating artists like Dayanita Singh, Sooni Taraporevala, Fausto Giaccone, Farrokh Chothia, etc. How did the team zero in on these names? What was the selection criterion?
The idea behind the festival is “small, but serious.” We wanted each artist to come to Sunaparanta for the strength of their work. We have veteran and internationally renowned artists, as well as fresh talent showing at Sensorium.
Personally, what is it about the Sensorium that you are most looking forward to?
Every single event, but opening night will be quite special: particularly the unveiling of original works by each participating artists, including magnum nominee Sohrab Hura, who will be launching his book with us. And then being a history buff, I’m rather looking forward to William Dalrymple’s lecture on December 19. He is curating a show for Sensorium of hitherto unseen photographic documents of Ajanta. I also hear a rumour that Dayanita Singh may do a surprise intervention to the body of work she will show with us. When that will be is going to be a great guessing game.
What do you think Goa will take away from this Art Festival?
It is my sincere hope that Goa will take away a fondness for art. This is a festival of the senses, and the desire is that you walk into the centre and as Sensorium’s motto states “See. Hear. Evolve.”  It is not just the art which is important at the festival, but the conversations around the art that will bring people together, forging a sense of community. Goa is a place of magic, a blank canvas of inspiration for those who look beyond the surface and initiatives like this one can help nurture talent and discover strength in the arts.
But, such art festivals have come to be viewed as the exclusive purview of the elite. How can this barrier be broken?
Particularly at Sunparanta, we are a not-for-profit institution and anyone who would like to attend an event just needs to do one thing: walk in through the gates. Art is not just for the elite; it is for everyone and each person has a role to play – even an artist needs an audience, and an audience needs the art. It is the imagination, the ability to see depth in ideas that can break down any such barriers.
As the daughter of Dipti and Dattaraj Salgaocar, a lot of eyes will be on you at this festival. Are you feeling the pressure?
There is no pressure. I am proud to be the daughter of Raj and Dipti Salgaocar, and a proud Goan. I grew up in a home where conversation was encouraged, forming opinions and being able to reason them out was nurtured and a love for the aesthetic was constantly present. It seems but natural that I have learnt from my parents and now in my own way seek to be involved at Sunaparanta.
You hold degrees in English and Political Science from Stanford University and a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University’s Journalism School. You career trajectory has seen you work with management consulting firm Bain & Company, in Mumbai; with Emmy award winning television show host Charlie Rose, in New York. And now, putting all that behind you, you have chosen to be executive director of an art festival. Comment.
In many senses, my career trajectory has only one thing in common: curiosity, and the desire to learn.
A fondness for the arts has been around since I was a young girl. My father has an extensive art collection, and began collecting when he was quite young himself. Often, even at the age of 6 or 7 I would accompany him to galleries in Mumbai as he perused the up-and-coming artists and the grand masters’ works…if it weren’t such a cliché, I’d say it is in my blood.
To what extent will you be involved with Sunapranta in the future
I will be involved with Sunparanta for several projects over the next year, spending a majority of my time on initiatives which involve the larger community in Goa and focusing on make art accessible.
(The first edition of Sensorium launches on December 6 and will run till February 5. Participating artists include Dayanita Singh, Sooni Taraporevala, Fausto Giaccone, Farrokh Chothia, Gopika Chowfla, Sohrab Hura, S Biswas, Adil Hasan, Sudeep Sen and curators Anusha Yadav, Regina Anzenberger and Jesus Clavero Rodriguez. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SensoriumFest; Twitter: @sensorium14 and Tumblr: https://sensorium14.tumblr.com/)


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