Vidyun Sabhaney

Extending Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over one year

Having worked in different capacities on various comic book projects and written and illustrated her own comics, Vidyun Sabhaney wants to examine sequential narrative by studying three picture-based folk performing traditions, Patuachitra from Bengal, Kaavad from Rajasthan and Togalu Gombeyatta from Karnataka. She believes the project will extend and enrich her own practice as a comic book artist and provide new story-telling techniques for the comic book art form. The Indian comic has not developed from an indigenous visual culture, and most players in the Indian market draw on the Manga, French bande dessinne or their American counterpart for their visual language. Besides, the market in India is small and has hardly grown in comparison to Japan or America. Given this borrowed history, a nascent market and the lack of training facilities for comic book artists in India, Vidyun feels the need to turn to Indian folk traditions to discover story-telling techniques that will enhance her own practice.

Vidyun will enter the three traditional forms through the stories of the Mahabharata, common to all the three forms. She chose the Mahabharata because it is primarily an oral narrative allowing for multiple renditions of the story, giving storytellers the liberty to represent characters and incidents as they choose. This will allow Vidyun the storyteller’s creative license, much in contrast to the industry-orientation of the mainstream publishing houses, wherein representation of characters is tightly controlled. In exploring the three folk traditions, Vidyun will attempt to grasp the inherent logic of their visual language and study the techniques of sequential narratives that existed before the typical comic book panel. The project will focus on understanding the use of time and space, representation of birth, death, the natural world, and characters, transformation of everyday objects into myths and representation of the magical. Her research will also extend to the content of the stories and their change over time, the relationship of the storyteller to the storytelling object and the dynamic economy that helps keep the tradition alive. Her methods of enquiry will include travelling to particular districts in the three states where the folk artists live and spending two months to learn each folk form, interviewing the artists and performers, and studying secondary material available in archives/libraries in Delhi.

The outputs of the project will include a comic journal documenting project learning, an online archive on each of the three forms and a workshop for artists in Delhi wherein Vidyun will share the various storytelling techniques she will learn during the course of her study. 

Download the workshop brochure for more details.