‘At Sensorium artists tell us about their most private conversations with themselves’


Author Siddharth Dhanwant Shanghvi is the co-director of the first edition of Sensorium—the festival of arts, literature and ideas at Sunaparanta Goa Center of Arts. It is a festival that traces the intersection between photography and the other mediums – literature, cinema and installation art. On January 11 he will be in conversation with artist Jitish Kallat on his experience as a curator of ‘Whorled Explorations, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014.’ In a chat with NT BUZZ Siddharth speaks about this event, the success of Sensorium Festival, the criticism he faced and why he hopes that they made something small and serious through this festival



Q: On Sunday, January 11, you will be in conversation with artist Jitish Kallat on curating, ‘Whorled Explorations, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014’. So, tell us about the relationship of Sensorium Festival and Whorled Explorations, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014. In other words what inspired to have this talk at Sensorium?

I’m interested most in learning how people’s minds create. Jitish and I were both creative people taking on roles different from what we were used to: in his case, directing a massive, celebrated Biennale (while I was trying to achieve something little but sober with Sensorium). Jitish is going to take me and Sunaparanta audiences through Kochi, and how it came to. What a marvelous gift!

Q: How easy or difficult will this conversation be, as both of you’ll are working on similar concepts. You are co-director of Sensorium and Jitish is the curator of Whorled Explorations, Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014.

It’s going to fun, because I want to learn from Jitish. This is precisely why my two inaugural speakers were William Dalrymple, director of Jaipur Lit Fest; and Jitish Kallat, director of Kochi Muziris Bienalle. I wanted to invite these two fiery minds to Sensorium to learn from them. Naturally, I was dismayed that organisers of festivals in Goa thought of Sensorium as ‘competition’, and their subsequent reaction was petty, vile and immature. There were mean-spirited, ill-informed reviews, or desperately failed moral conduct from organisers using their own festivals as tacky networking platforms to advance their careers. I want to say this out loud: at Sensorium there is too much collective artillery, and speaking for myself entirely, you really don’t want to mess with me. I leave people alone. Do the same with me.


Q: Speaking about Sensorium, which was inaugurated more than a month ago, but it is still receiving lot of feedback from the people. What according to you is the reason for its success?

Our artists. Their work is singular, powerful, beautiful and true. Please go see Sohrub Hura’s deeply moving show ‘Life is Elsewhere’, it’s like a Bret Easton Ellis novel writ large in pictures. See Adil Hasan’s tender photos, hear how Dayanita Singh makes novels from her photographs, or how Jitish Kallat is going to illuminate how art and organisation collide. This is why Sensorium is special: it’s where artists tell us about their most private conversations with themselves. Moreover, I could not have asked for more superior creative allies, Prashant Panjiar and Isheta Salgaocar, both rock stars.


Q: Which are the other events lined up for coming weeks at Sensorium?

After Jitish there’s the young star of international cinema, Ritesh Batra, whose movie, ‘Lunch Box’ was one of my favourite films. On January 17, at 7 p.m., he will deconstruct his film in four scenes; show some photographs, a giant coup, and a revelation of creative genius. Along with Dattaraj and Dipti Salgaocar, founders of Sunaparanta, I am delighted to say that Sensorium has now been extended, by popular demand, until the end of February.


Q: You’ll are of the opinion that the idea behind Sensorium is to do something small and serious. So, do you think that this goal is achieved? Also are you of the opinion that being small and serious will connect with masses?

I don’t know what it means to connect with the masses: We are running an arts festival not making a Karan Johar film! I hope we did make something small and serious. One proof is Sunaparanta is hosting a workshop with Magnum nominee Sohrub Hura, free for entry but people have to register, in early February.

(Jitish Kallat @ Sensorium—The creation of the Kochi Muziris Biennale: A Visual Story, introduced by Isheta Salgaocar. Jitish Kallat will be in conversation with Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi on January 11 at 7 p.m. at Sunaparanata Goa Centre of Arts, Altinho, Panaji. It is open to all.)