The journalist had been following my journey here on the Road to Nara and later found herself ecstatic on seeing some images that i had made few years ago following the sea along the expansive South-Western coast of India. I was then documenting it for a long term project on the journey of five elements and various shapes and forms they take.
HYPNIC PICNIC was this month’s theme, magic as she asked me for images that carried in them a life in between and the journey.
Along with me came a few other artists, as many as the fingers are in both hands, two from India and few from far away countries. Working, carrying their experience of the world in their fields of expression; illustration, sketches, graphics, Paintings and images.
In them i found few very interesting people doing the things they have been doing in their lives like Stilleke, he is a curator and was invited here to talk about the future of festivals and even more so in the years leading to this epidemic, because he is a Curator, or he supposes. While putting his thoughts across in this magazine he stated something that in his own words could put an immediate end to his future, as a curator in the field of the independent performing arts. Even worse, he said what he will say now, can and may be used against him sooner or later.
“Anyway, i will say it now simply because it is the – or at least my – truth and this truth for me also means the future of festivals and curators in today’s world:
I CURATE FOR AND ONLY ALL MY FRIENDS!
The projects I invite are the work of my friends. All artists i invite are my friends. All my curatorial decisions are based on friendship. All and exclusively. Always without exception.
I repeat: I CURATE ONLY AND ALONE MY FRIENDS!
Not because i appreciate them or the work is the state of the art.
Not because i often hear their names or they are on every guest list.
Not because i adore them and want to make a selfie with them.
No, i invite them because they are my friends.
I work with them because they are my friends.”
As i read his theory i could do nothing but contemplate. There could be a few other ways to look at it and may be i will let my readers choose if this is what they would also do?
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And then as i walked further deep into the pages of this magazine i found a Japanese artist, a book collector too, who loves to collect books on metaphysics, collecting the image of the gods dancing as a vision.
He later talks about comparing his vision with the ancient vision that the Yogis give him, that he looks upto what they have done, that he respects their vision and he puts them in his life. He says that books are a big part of his life and he wants to complete this vision quest through communication between the book and himself and everyone involved.
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Snap! went my neck before the rough sand ripped the skin off my back as i was dragged back onto the beach. I forced myself up, exhausted but bent on not to be undone by the throbbing pain that had now started to hammer at my spine.
I had already gifted the last toe on my right foot that i had saved especially for this occasion. Others had gifted an eye, an ear or even a limb. Another man, a tongue. In return the celestial beings had embodied us for that day and had made us invincible and electric for the night of conquests. We had been preparing for this moment since we were young boys. The other men in the water beside me had now started to scream in anticipation. I started to feel the shifting sand beneath my feet and egged on by the voices behind us. We started to wade further into the deep, shoulder first, to break that impending wall of water. Startled by an excited howl i had looked over my shoulder and found the remains of a skeleton, that by now had the flesh entirely washed off its bones, bracing itself for its last clash with the waves. I felt the pull of currents swirl and grab on to my ankles as i listened to the rising growl of what was lurking ahead. The men beside me had disappeared and as i stood alone looking up at the shadow swallowing me. i could swear i felt sweat run down my leg beneath the waters. Darkness.
The water curls lovingly over my toes and kisses the back of my sole before quietly retreating back into the open body of the sea. I can smell the salt in the air and listen to the foamy whiteness of sea spray in the distance. I open my eyes and look down at my feet, cushioned into the soft, wet sand. Two women had broken away from the crowd and have moved onto the wet land beside me. I can recognise those wafts of jasmine that they had tied delicately on to the back of their hair in strings.
Ealier in the day while we were making our way through the crows to visit the temple. i had felt a hand rest on my shoulder. It was a frail but empathetic hand and it belonged to the oldest person i had ever seen. The sun bounced blindly off her brilliant white hair and her eyes were liquid yellow compared to the rest of her beautiful, dark leathery skin. Her bright red Saree almost camouflaged the vermilion that had rubbed off her smeared forehead. When i tried to push on ahead, she put her hand on my chest beckoning me to wait for a moment. With her other hand she offered me a beautiful string of other flowers that slipped into the front pocket of my office shirt and rested her palm back on my chest.
we have been waiting long for you to arrive. Take off that mask, now will you?
A body fell over to the side of a betel shop at the edge of the crowded lane leading to a commotion. When i turned my head back again, the old lady and her empathetic hand had disappeared. The women beside me seem middle aged like me, except every time the water reaches their feet, they break out into a peal of laughter like a gaggle of girls sharing a secret at the back of the school bus. They echo the faint but rapturous squeals that each wave carries back to us with it. In a distance beautiful bodies burst out of the darkness in the water. Women, children, the elderly. Each time we moved forward into the last of the dark, their fingertips touch each other’s in nervous excitement as a wave flows past them. It is the sea that tickles in its playfulness. You see, we have all lifted our saris so that we can feel the currents all the way upto our thighs. Lost in my curiosity, before i realise its happening, the water swells before me and rolls me over in its embrace. I gasp upwards for a breath and cough out the water that had filled up my lungs. I reach at the back of my head and notice that the jasmine has been stolen by the currents and the wig has come undone. My girl has carefully fixed the flowers to my hair after helping me to tie my sari and fix my blouse. She had folded away my shirt and trousers neatly into an old plastic bag, protecting them from the sand. I turn around and catch her looking at me. she is sitting on the beach with the old plastic bag on her lap, her smile now illuminated by the first silver of daybreak. Nearby, i hear the splashing of footsteps in the shallows. I look up and find her again, staring at me. She, the oldest women i had ever seen, her head thrown back in a chuckle. Her red saree drips a trail of vermillion behind her as she walks towards land. I watch the translucent sky with dimming stars as i lay back afloat and wait for the next wave to carry me further away in its embrace
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Five Elements : Wind and Water
Different landscapes are inhabited by different tribes of crows speaking their own tree language, flying, watching like the curious most.
Like divine chroniclers, carrying many a rumours.
The morning had already turned to light when i saw a crow cruelly puncturing the stomach of a two day old kitten as he was unsteadily trying to cross the road, like any newborn tries, suddenly falling to one side, breathing heavily. Another crow joined poking at the now open stomach. From somewhere an old lady came running, with water in her hands and started dropping drops of water from her palm through her thick fingers into the kitten’s small, beautiful mouth.
Though he had no experience of the ocean but of rivers, he loved speaking of anything going further into oblivion to do with heaven. He said of an error on land may always be but right. Yet the river alone after sometime denies us that security, which may lead to miscalculation. In that time, think. And be aware of that thought.
People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul from earth to the land of the dead. but sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness arrives along and the soul cannot rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow brings back that soul to put the wrong things right. And lets hope they keep doing it.
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The summer sea roared, what was it that changed the course of the winds coming from the east?
That day the sea took all the ground it never claimed, some blue crabs died, strangely purple dominated everywhere. Some frogs little far who enjoyed the rain from their well started crying out of happiness. The big brown bird who was hiding and seeking some fun found and took the chameleon up in the sky, above the tall coconut trees and left him somewhere between nowhere, the chameleon then for the first time experiencing winglessness, far up landed on the tree leaves first; rolling over, sliding down from there like a child on a swing kept falling from one leaf to the other, when he found the bird again, this time his head was in her beak, the time came near or the end, chameleon’s tail wagging, slowly, gracefully like accepting love or rather death moments before the sound of the end filling the air or was it his new birth.
Looking all of it from under the tree, the bald saint who knew nothing apart from his breath undressed himself, and started walking towards the ancient spring. The tides that became wilder, than they were in the moonless night, like blue dome. Summer, then was over.
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