The Art For All Week at Kolkata's Goethe-Institut celebrates community art-making
ART MUST BE life — it must belong to everybody,” the iconic Serbian performance artiste and writer Marina Abramovic had famously said once. The Art For (of & by) All week, to be held at Goethe- Institut /Max Mueller Bhavan from July 25 to 31, recognises this sentiment in its entirety. The week-long exhibit aims to look at how art shapes up when residents, local organisations, artists and citizens come together to re-imagine their everyday environments into art spaces. Hosted by the Kolkata art studio Art Rickshaw, the artistic community Hamdasti, and Goethe-Institut, the remarkably conceptualised show will feature art exhibits, portrait studios, conversations, social art lab workshops, artist presentations, and much more. The show intends to take a dive into the breadth and reach of art, with a focus on two community art projects, which happened in the city this year, namely Chalo Painting Tangai, which took place at the Old Port Trust Colony in Taratala, and Across the Lines at Pavlov Mental Hospital in Gobra, both of which were part of The Kolkata Festival 2019. “The projects saw each collaborator stepping out of their respective comfort zones to make art together. The artiste faced a rather unusual challenge of working in unfamiliar spaces outside their studios, and had to find ways to make art interesting and most importantly, accessible to children and residents who had no formal training,” Devanshi of Art Rickshaw tells us. Chalo Painting Tangai, for instance, was a public art project which re-imagined local colonies like a blank canvas and transformed some of the significant sites of the city with murals, graffiti and paintings. “Across the Lines was another very special project where artists collaborated with residents of the Pavlov Mental Hospital to create some really impressive art installations. And it’s a huge deal, as the workspace became a home away from home for them, especially as some of the residents have been abandoned by their families. These two projects actually culminated into The Art for (of & by) All week to be held at Goethe-Institut, and it’s about collaborative art-making in communities, and how organisations, collectives and artists can make art for everyone,” Devanshi adds.
The week-long exhibit will feature a portrait studio, where you can witness the installations first-hand, or have your portraits sketched, and be a part of some group discussions about how art can be made accessible to all. An interesting social art lab will be held on July 27, facilitated by some of the leading NGOs, arts organisations and artists in Kolkata including Anjali, Jungle Crows Foundation, ThinkArts, and of course Art Rickshaw and Hamdasti. “What is the role of art in society, especially in these divisive and fast changing times? Should artists and civil society organisations collaborate? What to do when we need to learn from each other in order to shape a more critical, empathetic and inclusive society? We will be exploring these critical questions and working towards building new collaborations through a half day Lab,” Devanshi informs us.