An art trail in Bhubaneswar

Bhubaneshwar Art Trail, which will be held in November, is an attempt to unravel multiple narratives which form the collective identity, history, and culture of Bhubaneswar

An art trail in Bhubaneswar

Curators Jagannath Panda and Premjish Achari will put together a historic Bhubaneshwar Art Trail in the month of November this year. A venture of UTSHA, a contemporary art foundation set up by Jagannath Panda, it has been supported by the Odisha govt and the Tourism Dept. Stripped to its essentials, the art event is an attempt to unravel the multiple narratives which form the collective identity, history, and culture of Bhubaneswar, the historic capital city of Odisha.

"We are using this interactive public art project as a way to involve the community and artists to understand how we imagine and remember a city," says Panda a world famous artist. "Through various art projects, our focus is to highlight how the city of Bhubaneswar is imagined and how it is remembered now. Cities are mediated by received knowledge and people's memories and imaginations. Using public art as an important vector our attempt is to map the collective journey in the formation of a city by navigating through personal memories and learned knowledge."

This project is located on a trail of 1.3 km in the historical city of Bhubaneswar. The street houses, important medieval monuments, modern and contemporary architecture, schools, shops, public institutions, etc.

Artists will explore these edifices from different time periods, the trail, interact with the community, their history, personal memories, etc. to map the transformations and record not only the memories but the aspirations of the community and their dreams and yearnings about the city.

"The theme of this edition is 'Navigation is Offline','' says Premjish Achari. "The title refers to the contemporary technology-driven societies' overreliance on navigational technologies to identify, access and reach destinations. We look at the world through our cameras and our world has reduced to flat images which are uploaded, liked and shared on social media. Scholars have noticed how 'screens at once provide (the screen as a window onto the world) and prohibit (the screen as buffer or barrier) access to our global social, political and economic realities'. It affects and conditions our understanding of the world."

"This project is an attempt to address this issue in our contemporary life. We are attempting to understand the memories, stories, tales and the history associated with the people living around this short trail. We as travelers will chronicle its biography. While being on this trail we will retell tales of our own journeys while also listening to the new tales from Bhubaneswar," explains Achari.

In all, 20 artists from Odisha and other states of India as also from abroad have confirmed their participation in the project. The important contemporary artists, who are participating from India and abroad, are Sudarshan Shetty, Arunkumar H.G., Markus Baenziger, Gigi Scaria, etc.

4The participation of the local community living around the trail. They are providing us with their residential space to display artworks. This is a big USP of the event. We believe no art event in India has attempted it so far," says Panda.

4The trail is located alongside medieval historical monuments (7th century AD onwards) and because of this project the area will be developed without hampering the structures. We are using traditional materials for its reconstruction."

4The artists from Odisha are young and this will be a wonderful opportunity for them to show their works along with leading artists from India and abroad. This will be the first public art venture of Odisha on such a scale and we will attempt to leverage contemporary art to inspire the community, " he adds

Artists will stay in the old town of Bhubaneswar for one month and interact with space, local community and young art students. Students from various art colleges have agreed to volunteer for this venture. Art colleges have opened up their studios for the visiting artists to work there.

4Our attempt is to promote a new way of building cities which does not ignore the traditional structures. Our vision is to promote Bhubaneswar as a heritage city," adds Panda.

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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