Saturday, May 23, 2009

Forthcoming Project at 1Shanthiroad

1Shanthiroad Studio in collaboration with Think Tibet Organization is working on a project that marks 50years of Tibetans in exile. Project titled "Phayul Meyul - Touch, Hear, Smell, Taste, See Tibet" focuses on the Tibetan settlements in South India.

Brief of the Project:

In 1959, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet escaped the Chinese invasion and sought refuge in India. Thousands of Tibetans followed their leaders into exile, braving the elements and more importantly the threat to their lives if caught by the Red Army. By 1960, there was a sizeable population in India with no home to go to. The then Chief Minister of Karnataka, S.Nijalingappa came forward to offer land for settling the Tibetan refugees and the first Tibetan settlement in exile came up at Bylakuppe near Coorg.

These are four settlements in Karnataka today - Bylakuppe which is the largest Tibetan settlement in exile, Mundgod near Hubli, Kollegal and Hunsur. Bangalore is home to students, youth who work in city, and seasonally sweater sellers.

Many monks and nuns have found the freedom to practice their spiritual calling in the monastries and nunneries here. The three most important monastries in Tibetan Buddhism - Sera, Drepung and Gaden - are located in Karnataka with a strength of over 15,000 monks. The settlements are agriculture - based and the people continue to farm the land that was allotted 50 years ago. Unfortunately, that is not always sufficient to sustain a livelihood and some take up seasonal sweater selling. The Tibetan settlements are a marvelous display of resilience and sheer survival of a culture while remaining on the fringes of another community. Prayer flags line the landscape as surely as they did in the mountains of Tibet and on quiet morning, the collective chanting of the monks can be heard as they once did in Tibet.

In Bangalore,however, Tibetans live in insulated pockets. The sweater sellers, probably the most visible face of the community for the Indians, descend from the settlement in Orissa every winter. They are allotted designated areas in Majestic, National Market and Shivaji Nagar. And unlike others who are able to go 'home' to the settlements for the Tibetan New Year, the sweater sellers spend it in this bustling, cosmopolitan city that rarely stops to ask what the Tibetan is doing here so far from home.

This collaborative project will make visible the community and their struggle. It will be curated as a participatory project. The viewer will experience Tibet through the senses and will be treated to a sensory experience of Tibetan culture. We wish to create a multimedia installation at 1Shanthiroad for the local Tibetan Community and the people of Bangalore.

We also wish to use culture specific material, images, objects, food, smell to assault the senses. This is an attempt to work with Tibetans who we encounter but never had the opportunity to interact and understand. We wish to locate Tibetan Culture in the contemporary.

We also wish to use culture specific material, images, objects, food, smell to assault the senses. This is an attempt to work with Tibetans who we encounter but never had the opportunity to interact and understan. We wish to locate Tibetan culture in the contemporary context of a global struggle for freedom, equality and human rights. The artists will collaborate with the Tibetan community and activists to construct this multi-dimensional site specific event.

This project is supported by ANA - Arts Network Asia.

About Collaborators:

1 Shanthi Road.

VAC administers 1ShanthiRoad Studio/Gallery, an informal alternative space for the visual arts, creative collaborations, and new-media experimentation.This space has the advantage of being specifically designed to accommodate diverse art practices. And has been actively supporting alternative programs and art residencies. It has successfully contributed to make the visual art scene in Bangalore what it is today. But the current crisis is the need to sustain this space, provide basic infrastructure and salaries to working staff. The mission of 1 shanthiroad is to engage people working now into the space, and to develop a programming of shows, performances. curated projects, events, readings, and other gatherings to build momentum as a group of people interacting and collaborating together.

Think Tibet

Think Tibet was set up with two fundamental objectives: to be a resource for young Tibetans in exile to learn about their society and culture in the face of constant change; to create awareness about the Tibetan people in the local community. The avenues to achieve these objectives are largely the arts – through art collaborations, theatrical workshops and productions, books for children and events that encourage dialogue and understanding of a community in exile.

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