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India Foundation for the Arts
Newsletter Edition 28
May - June 2014

Grants & Job Opportunities

bird_bullet The Arts Education programme is accepting proposals from teachers seeking to initiate arts projects in government schools in Karnataka. Last date for applications is August 14, 2014. Details.

bird_bullet The Arts Practice programme is accepting proposals from practitioners working across artistic disciplines seeking to challenge prevalent idioms and conventions through their practice. Details.

bird_bullet IFA invites candidates for the position of Manager–Corporate Relations. Few of the key responsibilities of this position will be raising sponsorship from the corporate sector for fundraising events and grant showcases, and raising funds from Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives for project and programme support. Deadline for applications is August 11, 2014. Details.

The projects you read about in this newsletter, would not have been possible without the support of individuals who love the arts—people like you. We want you to join the IFA family and learn about the arts as you support them. Become a Friend of IFA. As a Friend, you will be contributing directly to philanthropy in the arts and increasing the presence of the arts in public life. It starts at just Rs 3,500/- a year and your donation is tax-deductible. As a Friend of IFA, you will receive exclusive access to IFA events, the ArtConnect magazine, and our annual reports.
IFA in your city
You wouldn’t want to miss IFA in your city. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive our updates. All events are public and free, unless otherwise stated.

The following events are scheduled for the next three months (event dates are subject to change):

bird_bullet BANGALORE
MaathuKathe ~ Sthaniya Sambaad
July 24, 2014 | 6:30 PM
The IFA Office
Sthaniya Sambaad (Spring in the Colony) —a film on Calcutta— directed by Moinak Biswas & Arjun Gourisaria.
Professor A G Rao
Grantee Presentation:
August 21, 2014 | 7:30 PM
Oak Room, The PARK, Bangalore
Carnival on Wheels directed by Sachindev. This film explores the experiments conducted by the ​​Sadhana Centre for Creative Practice in Thrissur​ who received an IFA grant to employ a bus ​ ​​as a travelling performance space.

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Beyond the Proscenium
Beyond the Proscenium: Reimagining the Space for Performance
Edited by Anmol Vellani
176 pp., Rs 300, US$ 20
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Embroidering Futures:
Embroidering Futures:
Repurposing the Kantha

Edited by Ritu Sethi
192 pp., Rs 400, US$30
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ArtConnect Issue 7, Volume 2
ArtConnect Issue 7,
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Edited by C K Meena
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After months of preparation, India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) organised its Project 560 Found Spaces Festival between June 5 and June 8, 2014. The four-day event featured a series of conversations with artists from Bangalore who had received grants from IFA for their projects; film screenings; a panel discussion with experts from the field; and multi-disciplinary performances across the city. While many of the projects supported under Project 560 had begun their interventions much before, the festival became an opportunity for IFA to bring together all the work done by the grantees under one event, making it easier to communicate and share with Bangalore audiences.

Project 560 Found Spaces Festival
Glimpses from the six artistic interventions at The Project 560: Found Spaces Festival;
June 05 - 08, 2014

We are happy to say that the festival gave audiences a chance to appreciate performances in public spaces and explore the familiar contours of their beloved city in newer ways. Over the three months of April, May and June, more that 80 artists created and presented more than 80 interventions at flyovers, roads, markets, malls, playgrounds and neighbourhoods across the city. It also opened up discussions and debates on 'found spaces', 'performance art', and the role the arts play in the life of a city. We hope to organise a second edition of Project 560 next year and look forward to your renewed support.

This quarter, IFA's newest programme—Arts Practice—made its foray into the field. We made three grants under this programme to Anurupa Roy, Vikram Iyengar and Pallavi Paul and Sahej Rahal. Each of the grantee projects raises critical questions about the way arts is practiced in their contexts. Our Arts Education programme launched a new initiative, an artist-mentor programme called Partner a Master, in collaboration with the Mumbai-based Art1st Foundation. As part of this programme, 25 children will spend four Saturdays every month for seven months, beginning in July, working with seven master artists from Bangalore. These workshops will give the children a chance to explore their artistic potential with guidance from some of Bangalore's leading contemporary artists, who come from different backgrounds like sculpture, graphic art, performance art, videography, visual art, etc.

We organised two grantee showcases and a film screening in Bangalore, one grantee showcase in Mumbai at two separate venues; and two editions of MaathuKathe, our 'art adda' in office.

In this edition of Slant/Stance, we speak to Ruchika Negi, a researcher with the Delhi-based Frame Works Research and Media Collective, about her project to study and document Tsungkotepsu, a tradition of shawl painting found among the Ao, Rengma and Lotha tribes of Nagaland. She collaborated with Delhi-based filmmaker Amit Mahanti and Nagaland-based puppeteer Jimmy Chishi for this project and received a grant under the Arts Research and Documentation programme.

We hope you enjoy this newsletter and we look forward to receiving your comments, critiques and love on all our various social media platforms.

Much love,
The IFA Team

Arts Research and Documentation (ARD)

This quarter, under the ARD programme we received 110 applications in response to our Request for Proposals. Our grants will be announced following their assessment by an external panel of experts in October.

We are also reviewing the ARD programme this year. It has been eight years since the programme was last reviewed. The need for a review this year has emerged because of the questions and concerns that have been thrown up by the collective experience of the past eight years of grant making and the changing nature of research in the arts in India. The evaluation panel will comprise of Susie Tharu, Rahul Roy, MD Muthukumaraswamy and Aneesh Pradhan.

Tanveer Ajsi, Programme Executive, ARD, is speaking to artists, researchers, curators and former grantees, among other stakeholders, to articulate the current scenario for research in the arts in India. This will be presented as a Voices from the Field Report to the evaluation panel. The review will commence in September and we hope to announce the freshly articulated programme later this year, based on the recommendations of the evaluation panel.

Arts Practice (AP)

We made three grants under this programme this quarter:

Anurupa Roy was supported to organise a 15-day puppetry workshop for nine participants from across diverse artistic backgrounds with a master practitioner from the Togalu Gombeyata puppetry tradition. First amongst a series of many to be held over the next two years, the workshop is the initial step towards addressing the need for building a robust discourse and pedagogy for puppetry in India.

Kathak dancer and performance arts researcher, Vikram Iyengar, was supported to create a performance piece in collaboration with contemporary dancer Preethi Athreya. Posing questions for both these artists, the process pushes the classical dancer to open himself up to contemporary approaches of performance making and asks the contemporary choreographer to work with and from the sensibilities of a classical idiom.

Artists Pallavi Paul and Sahej Rahal are collaborating on an experimental film on the Mars One project—a conceptual plan put forward by a non-profit organisation, based in the Netherlands, that plans to establish a permanent human colony on Mars by 2025. Apart from the film, plans are underfoot to create an exhibition and performance out of the material produced and gathered for the film.

Arts Education (AE)

We are proud to announce that IFA won a Pan-Indian bid to conduct a Capacity Building Programme for CBSE affiliated schools located in India and abroad in arts-based training. The first workshop on arts education capacity building through sound, movement and visual arts, will be held at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath on September 11 and 12, 2014. If you are a CBSE teacher, you can register for the workshop on the CBSE website. For details, please write to Anupama Prakash at

We are currently accepting proposals from teachers to initiate projects in government schools in Karnataka that use the arts to explore new ways of teaching and learning. The deadline for sending draft proposals is July 31, 2014 and for final proposals, it is August 14, 2014.

This quarter we launched a new set of grants that were made to artists who want to work with arts education in government schools. The two projets supported are:

Belgaum-based Blaise Joseph and Atreyee Day will receive a grant to create a series of art-based experiential learning modules that are exploratory and open-ended, where the child and the teacher become co-learners. The artists will create these modules at the Government Primary School, Vijayanagar in Belgaum.

Bangalore-based Gitanjali Sarang received a grant to create an inclusive programme for 30 children from the Puttenahalli Government School and their community, using creative interventions to build awareness about the environment and water conservation in their neighborhood.


On May 9 and May 10, 2014, we organised two showcases of an IFA grant to artist, architect and cultural researcher, Indrani Baruah, at two venues in Mumbai—the Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning and The Hive. The event was titled Cultural Re-imaginations: Experiments in Creative Placemaking. For her project, Indrani constructed a raft-like structure in collaboration with bamboo artisans and boat-builders in Guwahati and travelled along the River Brahmaputra, collecting, sharing and documenting stories, songs and local knowledge about the region. The boat became a space for collaborations and conversations, and attracted artists and performers from across the region.

Our second and third showcases were in Bangalore and featured discussions with four IFA grantees—Anurupa Roy, R V Ramani, Vidyun Sabhaney and M V Bhaskar. Vidyun and Bhaskar made presentations on their respective projects at an event titled, Re-imagining Storytelling Traditions: Comic Art and Animation, on May 10, 2014 at The PARK, Bangalore. Vidyun received a grant to study the storytelling technique of three picture-based folk performance traditions. Bhaskar received a grant to digitally replicate the 17th century murals of the Chengam Venugopala Parthasarathy temple in Tamil Nadu.

On May 11, 2014 Anurupa, Ramani, Vidyun and Bhaskar spoke on an IFA-supported panel at the Festival of Leather Puppets organised by the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath. The four artists spoke about their respective engagements with puppetry traditions. The discussion was moderated by IFA's programme executive for Arts Education, Anupama Prakash. This was followed by a screening of Ramani's film Nee Engey on the tradition of shadow puppetry in South India.

U-ra-mi-li by documentary filmmaker Anushka Meenakshi in collaboration with theatre actor Iswar Srikumar
Work-in-progress film U-ra-mi-li by documentary filmmaker Anushka Meenakshi in collaboration with theatre actor Iswar Srikumar.

We organised two screenings of the work-in-progress film U-ra-mi-li by documentary filmmaker Anushka Meenakshi in collaboration with theatre actor Iswar Srikumar in Mumbai on June 27 and 28, 2014 at two venues—the Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning and The Hive. This film travels through landscapes of Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam, Mizoram, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Kutch bringing together rhythms and songs of train singers and cattle herders; songs of embroidery and those of protest. Without any specific stress on identifying locations or people, the film tries to let the visuals and the sound create an experience of observing music and rhythm in everyday life across the country. IFA supported Anushka and Iswar's research into the work songs, known as Li, sung by the inhabitants of Phek village in Nagaland.

Project 560 Panel Discussion
Panel discussion on Reimagining Spaces for Performance, featuring (from left) Suresh Kumar G, Maya Krishna Rao, Nikhil Chopra, Kirtana Kumar and C Basavalingaiah.

Our biggest initiative this quarter was the Project 560 Found Spaces Festival, which began on June 5 with six conversations featuring the recipients of IFA's grants under Project 560— Mallika Prasad and Ram Ganesh Kamatham; Dimple Shah; Jeetin Rangher; the theatre group Rangasiri; the 080:30 Collective; and Mounesh Badiger. The grantees spoke about their work in conversation with six experts—Lawrence Liang, Suresh Jayaram, Lina Vincent Sunish, B S Ramamurthy, Dilawar Ramdurg and Vikram Hathwar respectively. This was followed by a panel discussion on the Reimagining Spaces for Performance, featuring Nikhil Chopra, Maya Krishna Rao and C Basavalingaiah with Kirtana Kumar and Suresh Kumar G. From June 6 to June 8, 2014, all our Project 560 grantees performed at found spaces across the city, including Mekhri Circle, Basavanagudi, Bellary Road, Whitefield, Wilson Garden and Commercial Street.

Project 560 Commercial Street
Arpita G from 080:30 Collective during her intervention on Commercial Street
as part of the Project 560 Found Spaces festvial.

We organised two MaathuKathes this quarter with Professor A G Rao and author Sudipto Das. Professor Rao runs a unique project called the Bamboo Studio at Industrial Design Centre in IIT Mumbai and has been studying bamboo as a medium of design for the last few decades. He shared a presentation and performed demonstrations to illustrate his techniques.

Sudipto Das an engineer from IIT, Kharagpur lives in Bangalore, and history, culture, language and music are of special interest to him. His debut novel, The Ekkos Clan, an exploration of these very themes is a fast-paced thriller set during the partition of Bangladesh. Sudipto was in conversation with Arundhati Ghosh, Executive Director, IFA, and he read a few excerpts from his book, at MaathuKathe.

Slant / Stance
Ruchika Negi

Ruchika Negi is an independent filmmaker and researcher based in Delhi. She is part of a collective Frame Works, and is interested in development, culture and social processes. Ruchika Negi received a grant in 2012 under IFA's Arts Research and Documentation Programme to study and document Tsungkotepsu, a particular tradition of shawl painting that is found among the tribes of Nagaland. Ruchika has collaborated with Delhi-based filmmaker Amit Mahanti and Nagaland-based puppeteer Jimmy Chishi. Her research will result in a film and a book featuring the puppets.

IFA: Can you tell us about Nagaland's Tsungkotepsu tradition of shawl painting?

Ruchika Negi: Among the Naga tribes, shawls have culturally been a symbol of one's tribal and social identity. Tsungkotepsu is a particular kind of shawl meant only for men of the Ao tribe. In its original form, the main band of the shawl was hand-painted with the ink extracted from the sap of a tree, and this was what made it unique among all Naga shawls. Most of the other shawls are entirely woven. Traditionally, this shawl was meant to signify the achievements of a warrior who had won enemy heads in head hunting raids. The figurative motifs of the band thus symbolise the bravery and fame of a warrior. Even though head hunting days are long gone, the figure of the warrior continues to be an important part of the heritage of the Ao, as well as other tribes. Today, the Tsungkotepsu shawl is commonly referred to as the 'warrior's shawl' and remains one of the most important shawls of the Ao.

IFA: Why did you decide to study this particular tradition?

Ruchika Negi: For me, the shawl symbolises a certain kind of language, a knowledge system that has been passed down from generation to generation, without the aid of any formal documentation. Most of the Naga traditions are oral in nature and therefore do not express themselves in words or language. Yet, each motif of the shawl has its own unique meaning and import, and constitutes its own language. In this sense, the shawl stands for a form of knowledge and expression that was rooted in a specific historical, cultural and social context. We were interested in knowing more about this kind of language and how it has evolved, both in expression and meaning over time.

We were also interested in understanding how the external and internal markers of social and political change impact the trajectory of a tradition. This is of particular interest to us because as we all know, the political history of Nagaland on the whole has been very complicated. With the coming of the American Baptist missionaries in the state in the late 19th century, most of the beliefs, practices and cultural symbols of the Ao tribe were termed pagan and heathen. Simultaneously, the presence of the colonisers and early anthropologists in the area also meant that the Naga population began to get framed in a certain kind of language, which perhaps though well intentioned, left behind a legacy of stereotypes and definitions that exists even today when we talk about 'Naga culture'. Post-Independence, the forced political assimilation of the region into the Indian Union was yet another violent phase in Naga history, where people and their cultural heritage were erased on a large scale, creating a cultural vacuum of sorts from within, for many years to come. We are interested in understanding how a fluid tradition like Tsungkotepsu navigates its way through all these external pressures and ruptures.

Atangla shawl, Nagaland
Atangla shawl, Nagaland

IFA: Share with us your experience and findings during the research trip with your collaborators Amit Mahanti and Jimmy Chishi to Nagaland.

Ruchika Negi: We were aware that the tradition found very limited mention in anthropological or research writing. Our research experience was useful in that it made apparent the impossibility of arriving at any fixed representation of a tradition like Tsungkotepsu that is strongly rooted in orality. Rather than looking for definitive accounts or narratives, we became interested in the larger ideas associated with the shawl, for instance, the figure of the warrior who is iconic for the Ao and is central to their heritage; or through the importance attached to the attire, which is still an important social marker that distinguishes one tribe from the other.

Some of the other ways through which we could understand the significance of this shawl were stories, songs or myths associated with this tradition. The dynamic nature of an oral tradition, stories which seem to move almost seamlessly between the past and the present, is evident in the way in which the lore around the shawl continues even today.

IFA: Your research in this tradition has become a window into the socio-political history of Nagaland. Could you elaborate on this?

Ruchika Negi: For us, it is difficult to try and understand a tradition like Tsungkotepsu without looking at the socio-political changes that Nagaland has been witness to. One cannot attribute a direct cause and effect relationship between the socio-political history of Nagaland and a tradition like Tsungkotepsu. However, if we look at the larger cultural landscape of the region and how it has been traditionally represented, we can draw some inferences. Early anthropological documentation of the Nagas and their cultural practices, despite being well-intentioned, seems to have unwittingly framed them as the exotic 'other'. While on the one hand, these works became a way for us to access information about a culture that we knew very little about until then; on the other hand, these also left behind a legacy of gaze, a way of looking at the 'other', which we seem to have inherited.

The coming of the Indian state and its propaganda further strengthened this representation, formalising it through its own narrative of 'Naga people and their culture' in an attempt to coopt into the Indian Nation State. Therefore, while looking at an art tradition in Nagaland, it is important for us to explore these interpretations that could have shaped the journey of a tradition like Tsungkotepsu and one's relationship to it in the present. Our attempt is to suggest how a tradition negotiates itself through these layers of representations and constructs that are imposed on it from the outside. To that extent, we are interested in exploring how socio-political contexts influence our gaze on culture itself, and how this gaze has a bearing on the way a tradition like Tsungkotepsu shapes itself, both from within and outside.

Sama painting, a shawl painting technique, Nagaland
Sama painting, a shawl painting technique, Nagaland

IFA: Despite the fact that Nagaland is not known for its puppetry tradition, it is interesting how you have collaborated with a puppeteer. Tell us about this collaboration.

Ruchika Negi: Tsungkotepsu is essentially a visual/pictorial form where each motif stands for a specific idea or meaning which is contained in a story or a myth or a song related to the world of the warrior. In a way, we can look at the shawl as a visual text that lends itself to a story telling form like puppetry. Puppetry offers us one way in which we can enter the world of orality within which Tsungkotepsu is embedded. At the same time, it also allows us to re-imagine a visual form like Tsungkotepsu from the point of view of the present and our own interpretation of it.

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