Abhivyakti: Engaging Ahmedabad’s Young Blood through Art

A month-long art celebration is providing Ahmedabad a kick of creativity. Fresh faces of the city pour life into Sanskar Kendra through their artistic efforts.

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I couldn’t hold on to my seat when I heard that my neighbourhood heritage site, Sanskar Kendra, is under plans to brim with art, culture, creativity and celebration for over a month, starting from January 19, 2018. The Abhivyakti City Arts Project celebration is probably the most extensive creative celebration that the heritage city of Ahmedabad has witnessed so far, and I am glad that I could spend enough time enjoying the artworks of all 15 artists comprehensively on its inaugural day. Apart from the visual art installations, each evening will have two original music and performing arts sessions, continuing till February 17th 2018.

The festival offers a combination of varied forms of creativity –the performing arts, theatrical arts, visual arts, photography, literature, architecture, music, paintings and various other inventive genres of creativity. This spirit is heightened on seeing creators from these different walks of life contribute their creative efforts towards making Abhivyakti look like a single holistic installation. Recitalist Arpita Dhagat met hundreds of people over an entire year to come up with the final line-up of 30 artists, who went through a curatorial process, before being green lighted for the maiden Abhivyakti. These varied artists have developed approximately 13 installations, and even though all the artworks displayed here possess their individual vibes, themes and auras, walking through them in continuity is not at all a deviating process for viewers.

One theme that is common between all the installations at the festival is a drive to narrate journeys through art. Toral Vyas’s ‘Once Upon a Time’ photography display has children from Visamo Kids Foundation costumed as crocodiles, monkeys and various animals, to portray Panchatantra tales from their childhood days. In Sumedh Kumar’s aromatic installation, each section possesses a smell that evokes a memory. Some of the installations even narrate street tales of Ahmedabad. Every such installation bears its own anecdote, with each artist’s inspiration and experiences giving shape to these works.

The contributing artists are prodigies who, amidst veterans, are still carving their niche within the industry. This has eventually turned out to be a beneficiary point for audiences of Abhivyakti, as one is privy to absorbing utterly fresh perspectives on art and aesthetics. The artworks are immensely engaging. Arpita Dhagat’s ‘Ukhanu’  walkthrough installation is a mystifying watch, in which artists enact freely from their consciousness, inspiring viewers to draw on walls with charcoal sticks. Inspired from Alice in Wonderland, Dhagat has attempted to break the barrier that exists between art and observer. Architects Isha Talsania and Abhinav Mishra’s ‘City in Sounds’ installation bears recordings of sound captured from various corners of the city, spontaneously transporting one into another realm of time and space, through the capturing of this intangible element.

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Hasmukh Makwana, an emerging name amongst artists from MS University, Vadodara, adopts the primary element of footwear in his‘Pagarkha’ installation, drafting poems onto shoes, with the help of other literati. Architect Mitul Kajaria, on the other hand, along with his literary friend Piyush Pandya, has prepared an installation of a middle-class house with poems written at random places around it. Pandya’s poems and Kajaria’s photographs of houses around the neighbourhood are aptly titled as ‘Dehari’ (Hallway), as it evokes a certain sense of belongingness that one feels for his abode. Pinki Godiawala, a student of veteran artist Dashrath Patel, has selected cycles – cycles of those who come to the neighbourhood to sell their wares – as her focal point in her solo photography exhibition. And Himanshu Panchal, a lensman associated with Navjivan Trust, has created a ticklish display about how mobile phones have changed our lives. Every artist has explored ways by which to engage the audience’s attention and give them a first-hand experience of art. Be it Akup Buchem’s ‘Reverance’, Pallavi Jain’s ‘A Woven Story’, Dhrupad Shukla’s ‘Now You See It’ or Jigna Gaudana’s ‘How Do I Look’, each piece in its own way is successful in giving expression to a generations memories and aspirations.

I overheard people discussing how Sanskar Kendra once hosted numerous flower shows and cultural events during the fateful days of the late 20th century. Abhivyakti seems to have revived this epoch, leaving audiences entranced by the sight of Le Corbusier’s city centre, which was designed in 1954, coming alive so vividly, and brimming over with youthful faces. The building is being used for exactly its original purpose over this month, giving a true glimpse into images of Ahmedabad (Amdavad Ni Jhanki). Although the edifice is in dire need of restoration, team Abhivyakti has still managed to extract the best out of Sanskar Kendra by using the aura of this extraordinary art and the use of imaginative illumination.

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Sapna Mehta, the Founder of Abhivyakti City Arts Project, who hails from a family of industrialists, ideated this festival alongside landscapist Aniket Bhagwat a year ago. Narrating her experience of it, she says, “I feel that Ahmedabad has a lot to give to its citizens, especially out of its young generation of artists. We want Abhivyakti to be a forever-long exhibition that inspires generations to create beautiful experiences.” Bhagwat would describe Abhivakti as a moment for Amdavadis to consume original creative content.

Apart from startling traditional dance performances by Dhruti Joshi, Shivangee Vikram and Sonal Bhargav, there are multiple performances even by veterans like Sunil Shanbag and Sanjukta Wagh, until February 17, 2018. These are sure to provide a dose of enrichment for families of Ahmedabad, especially those that look forward to consuming more than just entertaining content in their milieu.The energetic art movement of Abhivyakti has begun, and the presence of every viewer is a sure-fire boost to the confidence of these young creative talents from Ahmedabad.

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