The National Foundation for India (NFI) is collaborating with India International Centre (IIC) to present a three-day festival, ArtEast on 1, 2 and 3 February 2018. The festival is curated by Kishalay Bhattacharjee, formerly of NDTV and at present Associate Professor at O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonepat. Conceptualised by the Northeast Desk of National Foundation for India (NFI) headed by its director Dr. Monica Banerjee, ArtEast is a multi-dimensional festival with talks, discussions, film screenings, performances, exhibitions and installations located in the different venues at the India International Centre. An underlying focus of the festival is to raise pertinent questions through Inter/Sections in art, livelihood, migration, social justice, climate change, communication, history – past and present, issues that have a far reaching impact on every day lives of people and of the nation. ArtEast 2018 is the second edition of the festival and is supported by Sasakawa Peace Foundation.
One of the highlights of the festival is an exhibition and a performative installation around bamboo called An Ode to Bamboo, a visual journey of how it connects all the states of India’s Northeast and beyond through art, livelihood, architecture and everyday objects of use. New media artists Sukant Panigrahy and Kaur Chimuk have conceived a 22 ft. installation titled, An Unseen Tunnel Inside A Displaced Proletarian | year 2018 that takes the viewer through a tunnel travelling and experiencing the transitional point of green space to grey space- the crisis of ecological disorder and the un-sustained urban pressure. The exhibition will be paying a tribute to designer M.P. Ranjan and his work with bamboo. It will have poems and stories on bamboo by writer Sumana Roy, photographs by Ararti Kumar Rao and Parasher Baruah and paintings by Pankhi Saikia.
The panel discussions are woven around World War II; Bengal Famine, the CBI campaign and the Great Game. Joining the panel on The Other Silk Route: Spookery, Trade and the Great Game are writers and academics who have followed the Silk Route and how this ancient trading route became the most critical passage for espionage by the great powers. In The Game of Thrones: China-Burma-India Campaign of WW II journalists and researchers on the war will look at many of the lesser known facts like the jungle queen Ursula Bower who while working with the Zeme Nagas in Assam’s North Cachar Hills was asked to rate a guerrilla unit to fight the Japanese forces. Bower’s daughter Catriona Child will join us along with Kai Friese who trekked to places where American war planes crashed and tracked hump pilots around the world. Hemant Katoch the founder of the Imphal Battle Tours will share his research on the war.
The panel on Beyond the Bengal Famine will begin with the screening of Bengal Shadows, a just released documentary followed by a discussion moderated by Shiv Visvanathan who will be in conversation with Paris based filmmaker Partho Bhattacharya. British rule in India is bookended by two massive famines in Bengal. Little is known about the first in 1770-3 but it is the second, the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, that is considered by many to be one of the worst holocausts in modern history owing to what they perceive as either the wilful negligence or the active connivance of the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. It is well known that Churchill diverted food and medical supplies meant to help starving Bengalis, to theatres of war fearing above all, Hitler’s advance in Europe and the Japanese advance through East Asia during World War II. It is also well known that he felt contempt for his Indian subjects and, in particular, their efforts at principled resistance to colonialism. Yet many questions remain around the famine. Shiv Visvanathan asks was it even a purely localized Bengal famine or were its effects felt further afield? What was the real cost of these millions of deaths from mass starvation and why is it an almost forgotten episode of history?
In the film section, three highly acclaimed films from the region will be screened; Ima Sabitri directed by Bobo Khuraijam that tells the story of actor Heisnam Sabitri ; My Name is Eeooow directed by Oinam Doren on a practice called the Jyngwrai Iawbei in Meghalaya. The tradition is to have musical tunes as names in honour of the clan ancestors. The opening film of the festival is Up, Down and Sideways directed by Anushka Meenakshi & Iswar Srikumar and is a musical portrait of a community of rice cultivators and their memories of love and loss in Phek village, Nagaland.
As part of the festival there are two workshops conducted by Rida Gathpoh and her team from Meghalaya on making of black clay pottery, a dying tradition and a lecture demonstration on folk music and traditional musical instruments. Mi Ku a well known folk ensemble from Kathmandu will perform a concert on the final day.
Entry to all the events are open to all and without registration fees.