What are we without our cultural, traditional arts and crafts?! Rootless, identity-less people who are oblivious to the historical reflections of simplicity, decadence and everything in between. Our craftsmanship reflects our ancient heritage and leaves a trail of legacies that transport us to former centuries, it is absolutely essential to nurture Indian handicrafts,” declares Shobhaa De, novelist, columnist, cultural icon, and speaker at Jiyo Junoon to us on the sidelines of this immersive experience.
The six-day festival showcasing ‘What Village India Can Make And Do For The World’, is open to all free of cost. It brings an array of individualistic and vibrant designs showcasing contemporary items from the world of slow fashion, forest foods, bespoke design, conscious retail, and transdisciplinary experiences created by and owned by the self-empowered communities of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Much more than a marketplace, the event will be an exuberant confluence of conversations, performances and experiential exhibits upholding every aesthetic and craft.
At the helm of this initiative is Rajeev Sethi, celebrated Indian designer, scenographer and art curator. Responding to our query about the relevance of Indian handicrafts in the 21st century, he avers, “The hand reflects the best of the eye, heart and spirit; no instrument can ever replace it, nor should it.
Emotional and intuitive Intelligence is greater than all the artificial intelligence put together. There is also the imperative of a subcontinent fast deskilling itself, with 12 million educated young coming on the road with empty pockets and nothing to do. The machine cannot be the only future of work. I don’t even use the term handicrafts any longer; I use the terms cultural industry or creative enterprise!”
The festival will also see several of the city’s art and craft aficionados, including Shobhaa De, Pheroza Godrej, Tasneem Mehta, Konkana Sen, Shekhar Kapur and Shabana Azmi, participating in panel discussions. “They do not bring just their name,” points out Rajeev Sethi, “these are highly evolved responsible citizens that know what is good for the country and have participated in its inclusive growth. Helping to improve the quality of life for those vulnerable, is everyone’s duty. I am fortunate that they are also my friends… What is life without humsafars!”
The festival will see Shobhaa De talking about carrying forward the legacy of traditions to the next generation. “Posterity should harness a sense of awareness of their roots and an appreciation for their culture. The youth has to recognise the value our crafts and the colour that artisanal communities bring to our lives,” she adds. Tasneem Mehta, Honorary Director at Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum India, shares that she will take a look at the concepts of modernity and tradition within the sphere of Indian arts.
“Although often modernity means leaving the old behind, Indian artists often drew from indigenous arts and crafts of the subcontinent. This will be the focal point of my discussion and I look forward to the same,” she says, adding “India has the most brilliant craft objects and it’s very important that our appreciation for the skill should not be lost.”
Admitting that the market for India’s skill has still not evolved enough to sustain livelihoods for millions of our skilled poor, Sethi adds, “The woods are dark and deep… and miles to go before we sleep. One achievement has been that we have been able to create a transdisciplinary brand which creates synergy between different creative livelihoods, a global knowledge society is looking for an edge with original content and that is multi dimensional and sensory.”
He is personally excited about the conversations on slow fashion, earth totems as incense burners, digital gaming with Gond animations, grass furniture, leather lamps, specially curated meals, modular wall tiles, silk and cotton couture, asymmetrical needle work “and so much more!” De is partial to the leather puppets hailing from Andhra Pradesh. “They have a touch of playfulness engulfed in folklore, I adore how fascinating they are. Everything that involves weaving is also very captivating to me right from Kotpad weaving to Bavanbuti weaving,” she says. Tasneem Mehta maintains that her exposure to textiles and the passion she has for textile designing ignites a special form of affinity towards textiles. “There is no country in the world with this kind of textile variety!” Time to discover and procure some of this astounding variety, along with live performances, dances, workshops, and more. Time to Jiyo!
When: March 31 to April 4, 2019
Where: Grand Hyatt, Santacruz East