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India Foundation for the Arts
Newsletter Edition 30
October 2014 - January 2015
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Hello readers!

Greetings from the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA)! In our first newsletter this year, we bring you exciting news from the last few months.

Indian Ocean featuring Shubha Mudgal
Indian Ocean and Shubha Mudgal playing to a packed house at our December fundraiser

We have made fifteen grants and four fellowships and that is only part of what we have been doing. IFA has entered its 20th year of grantmaking this month and we are marking this milestone with a two-year long celebration of the arts. In that spirit, we have hosted several events - one fundraiser, four Open Houses, one Film Festival and six Maathukathes. Most notable among them was our fundraiser – a concert by Indian Ocean and Shubha Mudgal in Bangalore and an evening of Dastangoi by Mahmood Farooqui in Singapore.

We invite you to come celebrate with us all year long!

As you must have noticed, we have undergone a slight change in the format of our newsletter in the last edition. We strive to make the newsletter more appealing and readable for you. So we eagerly wait for your views, comments, feedback at

The IFA Team

Programmes Publications
Events Slant/Stance
Announcements Support Us

Arts Research and Documentation (ARD)

It was a very productive quarter for the Arts Research and Documentation (ARD) programme. We made nine exciting grants and had the chance of meeting some of the grantees at our December 2014 Grantee Orientation. We made grants to:

Sampurna Trust with Principal Investigator Deepthi Priya Mehrotra, for exploring the contours of feminist street theatre as a genre, with its specificities and aims, its own language and methods, aesthetics and conceptual underpinnings as an integral part of the Indian women's movement during the 1980s in Delhi. The outcomes will include a book and a CD. This grant has been supported by South Asian Women's Fund (SAWF).

Samreen Farooqui and Shabani Hassanwalia for exploring the unlikely subculture of B-boying and Breaking as an Indian form of contemporary street dance, spreading slum-to-slum, urban village to urban village, in the cities of India. The project will focus on Khirki village, New Delhi, a volatile melting pot of a changing country, whose clashing population of Jats, Biharis, Nigerians, Afghanis, and struggling artists of all kinds, is shaping its youth in the unlikeliest of ways. The outcome will be a film.

Sowparnika Balaswaminathan for research and documentation on a community of sculptors who create popular export-oriented craft objects known as the Swamimalai bronze idols. The project is aimed at answering the question of how a traditional art is simultaneously appropriated and engendered by governmental institutions, and conversely, how that traditional craft community both capitalises on the supportive aspects of governmental apparatuses and competes with it. It will further investigate how concepts such as "tradition", "identity," and "commerce" are conceptualised and negotiated by sculptors through the lens of the neoliberal craft industry in India. The outcome will be an essay.

Ladakh Arts and Media Organisation (LAMO) for a film that will look specifically at the musical tradition of the Old Town in Ladakh. The film will explore how music is representative of life in Ladakh and how it connects the modern generation to the past. It will capture oral histories through interviewing the practitioners, look at the available archival data, probe into the Monastic festivals of the Ladakh region, and speak to the contemporary young generation of musicians who have incorporated modern instruments in their musical tradition.

Jainendra Kumar Dost for researching the developments and changes in the Launda Nach performances in Bihar, since 1990. The project aims to deal with a number of questions including the influence of CD culture, films and cassette industries on Launda Nach to understand the evolution of this art form and its aesthetics, and the transformations that it has undergone in terms of training and the audience involvement. The outcome will be a manuscript for a book in Hindi with a CD containing various interviews and excerpts from the Launda Naach performances.

Sita Reddy for research and the making of a website and future exhibition(s) on India’s disparate botanical art traditions, focusing on four colonial botanical texts ranging from the 17th century Hortus Indicus Malabaricus to the 19th century Flora Indica.

K.H. Hussain for documenting the complex and conflicted history of the evolution of the Malayalam script in the computer era through the exploration of the Rachana movement in Kerala. The outcomes of this grant will include a free and open Malayalam font based on original script, a website archiving published articles and video clippings of interviews related to the language campaign for the original script, and a book printed using original script narrating the history, evolution and the present status of the Malayalam Lipi and Unicode language technology.

Jenson Joseph for analysis of the political-cultural contexts of the 1990s when satellite television began to evolve as a crucial mediating factor in social life in Kerala. This project attempts to propose that television’s specificity as a markedly domestic medium and satellite television’s address from the horizons are two aspects that need foregrounding in order to grasp how the medium becomes instrumental in refashioning of the modern political subject. Narrating the cultural history of the Malayalam satellite channel Asianet would be key to the project in exploring this theme. The outcome will be a monograph.

Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre, Arts and Research with principal investigator Rustom Bharucha for an in-depth study of diverse constructions and reinventions of the Ramayana with specific focus on seven performance traditions and two contemporary reinterpretations. The project seeks to provide a textured and contextual study of the diverse manifestations of the epic within specific ritual, social and performative contexts. The outcomes will include a series of presentations and an essay.

Arts Practice (AP)

We made three grants under this programme:

George Mathen for graphic novel, an exhibition and an animation film developed on the concept of a futuristic city embodying a perfect marriage between religion, politics and big business serving the consumerist dream, conceived from different artistic perspectives, keeping each medium in mind. Instead of panels, the graphic novel will have single page illustrations without any text.

Tejaswini Niranjana for an inter-disciplinary collaborative work towards creating a musical cartography of Mumbai. Tracing the emergence of a distinct pedagogy and public engagement with music, the work seeks to understand the trajectory of Hindustani music in Mumbai through the late 19th and early 20th century, especially through a study of the city's built spaces and neighbourhoods. The outcome will include a workshop, an exhibition and a few performances.

Mohit Takalkar from Aasakta Kalamanch for the creation of a production based on a Marathi script titled Flat Number F-1/105. Through active collaborations between the director, the actors and the playwright, the performance seeks to address issues around identity through a reflection on the aesthetic and political perceptions of 'colour'.

Arts Education (AE)

As many of you may know, IFA makes grants to artists and school teachers for projects in Government schools under its Arts Education programme. We made three grants.

Ashok Thotnalli for facilitating a series of workshops on Doddata, a folk performance art form of north Karnataka, for the children of the Government High School, Jakanapalli, Gulbarga. Sessions will be conducted by local Dodatta troupes on a regular basis towards performances, presentations and discussions, leading to a student production and an exhibition for the community.

S Kaladhar for a series of art-based interventions to encourage children to heighten their creative writing skills alongside developing visual sensibilities leading to the production of a book by the children of Government Higher Primary School, Kannamangala, Chikkaballapur district.

Students of 8th and 9th grade of Government High School, Kundapur explore poetry, 
as part of Sadanand Byandoor's project
Students of 8th and 9th grade of Government High School, Kundapur explore poetry,
as part of Sadanand Byandoor's project

Sadanand Byandoor for an exploration of poetry in its multiplicity for a group of 8th and 9th graders of Government High School, Kundapur, Dakshin Kannada district. The effort will be to draw up a selection of curricular and non-curricular poetry — to read, de-construct and enjoy its essence. In addition, specialised resource people will be invited to evoke new meanings and explore the possibility of extending poetry to theatre for a student production in the school.

IFA, as part of its Kali-Kalisu initiative, also conducted a Master Resource Persons orientation in collaboration with DSERT and NCERT from November 17 to 22 at Kudalasangama, Bagalkot.

Ashok Thotnalli's students in performance during the one-day national level Arts Education Seminar, Bangalore
Ashok Thotnalli's students in performance during the one-day national level Arts Education Seminar, Bangalore

We organised a one-day national level Arts Education Seminar in association with UNICEF and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) at NGMA, Bangalore on December 5. Teachers and artists who have received grants under the Kali-Kalisu initiative of our Arts Education programme presented their work and experiences to the audience. A riveting performance by Ashok Thotnalli's students had attendees enthralled.

Archival and Museum Fellowships

IFA is collaborating with the National Museum, New Delhi to support, through fellowships, four artists/curators, who will be working at the Painting Department and the Decorative Arts Department, to relook at their collections through contemporary frameworks and energise the museum space through exhibitions.

Preeti Bahadur and Deeksha Nath will be fellows at the Painting Department. Preeti's exhibition will present the ragamala paintings in its historical context and explore the relationship these miniatures have with other fields of arts like literature and music. Deeksha will curate a series of contemporary 'performances' in response to the textual, visual and aural nature of the ragamala paintings.

Bessie Cecil and Suchitra Balasubrahmanyan in collaboration with Abeer Gupta will be fellows at the Decorative Arts Department. Bessie's project will primarily research the effect that the river has on the textile industry with special focus on the Ganges and its influence on the weaving of the 'brocade sari'. Suchitra & Abeer's project aims to ascertain the pedagogic and public value of our national cultural resources through research and exhibition, thus establishing a live link between the collection, the classroom and the exhibition.

All four fellowships will culminate in exhibitions at the National Museum in February 2016.

IFA is also collaborating with the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSC) for two Archival Fellowships for a period of 8-10 months, starting March 2015, to give practitioners - curators, artists, art historians, filmmakers - the opportunity to engage with the visual archives collection in innovative and original ways. The outcomes could include exhibitions, films, performances or publications. Of over 20 applications received, we have shortlisted candidates who will be interviewed in late February and the fellows will be announced soon after.

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On December 11, IFA organised a concert by the inimitable band Indian Ocean featuring renowned singer Shubha Mudgal as a fundraiser. They played to a packed house and the concert turned out to be a great success.

A glimpse from our Grantee Orientation programme spanning two days of discussion, presentations and conversation
A glimpse from our Grantee Orientation programme spanning two days of discussion, presentations and conversation

We also organised a Grantee Orientation in December where seventeen of our grantees came down to our office for a two-day programme to learn about us and the work we do. They also took turns speaking about their work and presenting their projects to the staff and other grantees. It turned out to be an invigorating two days for all those involved, with interactions, exchange of ideas and fun-filled conversations.

From our Maathukathes this quarter, (left to right) Amit Reddy, Ruchira Das and Shubhasree Bhattacharya
From our Maathukathes this quarter, (left to right) Amit Reddy, Ruchira Das and Shubhasree Bhattacharya

We organised six Maathukathes — biker Amit Reddy talked about his motorcycle journey across the country and his encounters with people from diverse cultures on the way; Ruchira Das talked about homeschooling and sharing the joy of arts with children; and Shubhasree Bhattacharya, a sound artist, presented her work on different sound projects. January was celebrated as Theatre Month at IFA, as we had three exciting MaathuKathes on theatre all through the month. Sudhanva Deshpande, actor, publisher and cyclist, talked about his involvement with Jana Natya Manch (Janam) a political theatre collective based in New Delhi. This was followed by an extremely charged presentation by three members Faisal M.M. Abu Alhayjaa, Ahmad HF Al-Rokh and Alan Douglas Wright of The Freedom Theatre, Palestine, who talked about their cultural resistance against the Israeli occupation, the role of theatre and their work at the Jenin camp in Palestine. Last, but not the least, Sameera Iyengar, the co-founder of Junoon, Mumbai, who spearheads their Mumbai Local programme, talked about unleashing the power and magic of theatre, and creating platforms for all to access and experience it.

An IFA Film Festival was organised in Mumbai between October 09 and 11, in association with Somaiya Centre for Lifelong Learning. The festival showcased four films supported by IFA — City of Photos by Nishtha Jain, Out of Thin Air by Shabani Hassanwalia & Sameeran Farooqui, The Nine Months by Merajur Rahman Baruah and The Other Song by Saba Dewan. In December, IFA partnered with Theatre for Experiments in New Technologies (TENT), Kolkata to showcase a package of eight IFA supported films at the Little Cinema International Festival for Experimental Films. We also screened a series of five IFA supported films at the Krishnakriti Annual Festival of Art and Culture, Hyderabad in January, 2015.

IFA Programme Executive Tanveer Ajsi at the Open House at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
IFA Programme Executive Tanveer Ajsi at the Open House at Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

IFA hosted three Open Houses in Madhya Pradesh. Our Programme Executives Shubham Roy Choudhury and Tanveer Ajsi went to Jabalpur, Indore and Bhopal where they spoke about IFA's programmes and addressed doubts that people had regarding our application process over cups of steaming coffee. We also organised an Open House in Puducherry in December where Programme Executive Sumana Chandrashekar met several artists and took them through IFA's programmes.

We plan to hold Open Houses in more cities in the next quarter. If you would like to host an Open House with IFA in your city, please do write to Watch this space, the next city could be yours!

Upcoming Events

The following events are scheduled for the next three months (event dates are subject to change):
bird_bullet BANGALORE  
  Grant Showcase:
  Exploring Education through the Arts Exploring Education through the Arts
February 15, 2015 | 06:30 PM
Rangasthala, Rangoli Metro Arts Center, MG Road
Presentations by four teachers—Gururaj L, Prajna Hegde, Madhukar M L, Chitra V—from four different districts, who will share the stories of their art education projects in their respective government schools
  Explorations in Kathak by Ashavari Majumdar Explorations in Kathak by Ashavari Majumdar
Special 'Friend bring a Friend' Evening
February 27, 2015 | 07:30 PM
The PARK, Bangalore
The performance sees the character of Surpanakha through many lenses—as a beautiful woman, an ugly rakshasi and a victim of patriarchal norms, among others—each representative of a different version of the Ramayana. This is an exclusive evening for Friends of IFA and to know more and block your seats, write to

  Talking Puppetry Talking Puppetry
March 04, 2015 | 07:30 PM
The PARK, Bangalore
Conversation between puppeteer Anurupa Roy, the Togalu Gombeyaata master practitioner Gunduraju and two participants of the puppetry workshop, Aditi Chitre and Vinay Chandra; towards building a robust discourse and pedagogy for puppetry in India
  Thirty Nights of Marathi Theatre: A Socio-political History Thirty Nights of Marathi Theatre: A Socio-political History
Author Makarand Sathe

March 19, 2015 | 07:30 PM
Bangalore International Center (BIC), Domlur
Book launch of Thirty Nights of Marathi Theatre: A Socio-political History (Natkachya Tees Ratri: Ek Samajik Rajkiya Itihas).
  The Bangalore Harmonica Club (TBHC) The Bangalore Harmonica Club (TBHC)
February 20, 2015 | 07:00 PM
The IFA Office
TBHC takes us through the journey of the Harmonica in India and its varied expressions across musical genres
  'Cheruvannur Diaries – Typewriter Tales' - A storytelling performance 'Cheruvannur Diaries – Typewriter Tales' - A storytelling performance
Directed by: Rajiv Krishnan | Group: Perch, Chennai
45 min | English
February 26, 2015 | 07:00 PM
The IFA Office
'Cheruvannur Diaries- Typewriter Tales' is a narration of the experiences of a typewriter salesman in North Kerala in the '80s
  Ajay Cadambi Ajay Cadambi
March 17, 2015 | 07:00 PM
The IFA Office
Talking about courtesan singers of the twentieth century and contemporary representations of Hindustani music.
  seminar & exhibition:
  Art1st Partner a Master: An Artist-Mentorship Programme Art1st Partner a Master: An Artist-Mentorship Programme
Exhibition: March 01-08, 2015 | 11:00 AM - 07:00 PM | Vismaya Gallery
Opening: March 01, 2015 | 04:40 PM
Seminar: March 02, 2015 | 09:30 AM - 03:30 PM | Rangasthala
Rangoli Metro Art Center, MG Road
A seminar and exhibition marking the culmination of the seven month workshops held in Bangalore, showcasing the work of 25 student participants
Dastangoi Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain Dastangoi
March 06, 2015 | 07:30 PM
Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram
A performance of Dastangoi by Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain. An ancient art of storytelling, dastans are tales of adventure, magic and warfare. The performance will feature Dastan Mehtaab Jaadu Ki, a typical episode from the Tilism-e-Hoshruba chapter of the Dastan-e-Amir Hamza and an adaptation of a Rajasthani folk tale, Dastan-e-Choubuli.


Motley Theatre Festival
Motley Theatre Festival:
April 23 to 25, 2015 | 07:30 PM
Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram
Three classic plays from Motley Theatre, Mumbai – Gadhaa Aur Gadhdhaa, Einstein and a dramatised reading of Vikram Seth's Beastly Tales. All plays are directed by Naseeruddin Shah, featuring the man himself.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive our updates. For more details, write to

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bird_bullet   The Arts Practice programme invites proposals both from practitioners working within as well as across disciplines throughout the year. For more details on the programme and applications, click here.


We have an interesting set of publications to offer that include postcards featuring our grantees' work, books and back issues of our magazine ArtConnect. Also, avail special anniversary discounts on Limited Edition collections. All the proceeds from the sale of publications go back into our grantmaking. To know more, write to

IFA POSTCARDS Set 1 Beyond the Proscenium Embroidering Futures: ArtConnect Limited Edition
Introducing our first ever set of IFA POSTCARDS!
Own one today!
Suggested contribution:
Rs 200
For details, write to
Beyond the Proscenium: Reimagining the Space for Performance
Edited by Anmol Vellani
176 pp., Rs 300, US$ 20
Click here to buy online.
Embroidering Futures:
Repurposing the Kantha

Edited by Ritu Sethi
192 pp., Rs 400, US$30
Click here to buy online.
20 years: Limited Edition
Set of 9 ArtConnect back issues

Buy Now at Rs 700 only
Click here to know more.
To buy ArtConnect, write to
Buy both and get a discount of Rs 100!
Click here to know more.
Calendar 2015 Calendar 2015 Calendar 2015 Calendar 2015
The IFA 2015 Calendar is out!
Grab a copy today for just Rs 200! Write to

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Rahul Kumar

Rahul Kumar is a ceramic artist based in New Delhi. He received a grant from IFA under the Extending Arts Practice Programme for experimentation with scale and medium, to create a ceramic installation challenging the conventional association of ceramics with functionality and utility. 'Circle Uncircled… an installation in ceramic' is a large-scale ceramic installation of size 24 ft x 10 ft that was exhibited at the India Art Fair under special curated projects in 2015. His installation was the largest at this year's India Art Fair.

Kumar has been working with clay as a medium for the last twenty years. He completed his masters from USA on a Fulbright Scholarship in 2008 and received the Charles Wallace award to study in the UK in 2013. His works have been auctioned at Sotheby's London in 2012. He is a three-time recipient of AIFACS National Award. In 2014 he received the Junior Fellowship for excellence in the field of Visual Arts from the Government of India.

IFA: As a ceramist you have often experimented with scale. Tell us about the difference in this particular project and the implications 'scale' has on technique and form.

Rahul Kumar: Ceramics as a medium does not render an easy way to play with scale. That is the normal notion and to an extent even true. There are clear limitations on how large a work one can make and then fire it. I have always enjoyed making slightly larger-sized works. When about three years back I was invited to show my work at an international ceramic show, I realised that I was placed right next to a very senior ceramist (for display of work); I immediately knew that I will have to push myself hard to get any attention! I then decided to play with scale…but just reversed the notion – I decided to make miniature works. The works did very well, and a curator asked me for a body of work in the same series for an auction show at Sotheby’s London. Last year I decided to take a U-turn and experiment with making very large platters. I had never reached that scale in the past. With Circle Uncircled (the installation), I have created a work that invites the viewer to see it up-close (to study the details, the organic) and at the same time experience it from a distance, relate the scale to where one sees it from. The glossy reflective surface of each work, negative space created by each component all adds to the play!

IFA: What has been your engagement with ceramic arts?

Rahul Kumar: Clay as a medium is very tactile and requires the artist to completely get into it (one medium that cannot be used without actually and directly using your hands). Pottery on the other hand, my subject, is therapeutic! One feels empowered creating a pot from a lump of clay and at all stages of the process realise and embrace the greatest truth – that of impermanence. At a spiritual level, clay pot is the only form that is made using all the five elements. Clay and water to make the pot, air to dry it, fire to create it, and space is what it holds. Eastern civilisations have a deep history and tradition of clay pots. This has to a great extent lead to this medium having to walk up the hill to be accepted as contemporary art. For the past one year, I have focused on this project. I have several other things that I want to get to, but after the art fair.

A glimpse of Rahul Kumar's work displayed at the India Art Fair 2015, New Delhi
A glimpse of Rahul Kumar's work displayed at the India Art Fair 2015, New Delhi

IFA: Geometric patterns seem to play a distinct role in your work. Tell us how you are planning to work with geometry in this project?

Rahul Kumar: I like the play of opposites, the tension of differences. The basic form, as is the case with platters in this installation, have a distinct and rigid geometry, the treatment is very organic. This creates the tension I want. It’s a predictable circle, but the lip is undulated, the patterns combine straight lines with curves. And so the title: Circle Uncircled.

IFA: Tell us about the challenges and learning from the process leading to the final exhibition.

Rahul Kumar: Since I had not made work in that scale I had to go through the process of arriving at a clay recipe that would at one level provide the strength and tenacity, but also remain adequately plastic and malleable. I had to figure ways to control shrinkage during the drying and firing processes. I had many failures, and that is something that, I am always prepared for as a ceramist. But the most frustrating ones were those when, I felt, I had done everything I could, even what was remotely in my control, and still things did not work out the way I hoped. And just then, I would notice something trivial, on the face of it, having a huge impact. As an example, a lot had to be altered in the process for work that, I tested within November/December to reach the final production in March/April (in Delhi). I think it is very important to be sensitive to the smallest subtleties always, but most certainly when working in clay!

Rahul Kumar experiments with scale and medium in his work created with an IFA grant under the Arts Practice programme
Rahul Kumar experiments with scale and medium in his work created
with an IFA grant under the Arts Practice programme

IFA: How does this work mark an important point in your journey as an artist?

Rahul Kumar: I have pushed my boundaries with this work. For me personally it has been an enriching journey. IFA’s grant was most helpful at two levels – it allowed me to work with a free mind, and the association itself has been very valuable. I may go back to making miniatures again, but the experience as I worked on this installation will hugely impact my very approach to even smaller scale work.

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Support Us

India Foundation for the Arts makes grants to artists, scholars and institutions throughout the year. For all these exciting projects to take shape, we have to constantly raise funds. We invite you to come on board and contribute. You can support IFA in many ways and every contribution counts.

bird_bullet   Become a Friend of IFA
Support us by becoming 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 3,500/- a year and your donation is tax-deductible under 80G. You will receive exclusive access to IFA events and our annual reports. Become a Friend of IFA.

bird_bullet   Become a Donor Patron
We invite you to donate generously and join IFA's Donor Patron Circles and be a part of the IFA family. By joining IFA's Donor Patron Circles, you can choose to contribute directly to our Corpus or support a specific grantee whose work is of interest to you; you can underwrite operational costs or extend your support to any one of our programmes. Donor Patron circles include Platinum, Gold and Silver categories. Patrons receive a mention in our Annual Report, get exclusive access to IFA events and more. Learn more about our Donor Patron circle.

bird_bullet   You can support us by sponsoring our events, inviting our grantees to showcase their work at your workplace or home, or even attending our events, and forwarding this newsletter to your friends who are interested in the arts. If you would like to support IFA in anyway, please contact Menaka Rodriguez at

bird_bullet   You can also support us by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter and Youtube and stay tuned to know more about our projects, initiatives and exciting events.

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