Goa University is very generous – it opens up its visiting faculty programs to the general public and that too absolutely free of cost. Attending some of these programs have been my best blessing in Goa. This December, I signed up for a program that was curiously called Utopia Dystopia Goa. It involved working with the renowned artist Orijit Sen to create a public installation using various materials – right from terracotta to waste material.
Utopia Dystopia Art project
Sounds interesting – but beyond that, I had no clue. And no experience whatsoever of working with artists – forget about being one myself. It was a challenge and needed a commitment of 3 weeks of time. But I decided to go ahead and get involved. The only thing I was sure of was some learning every day. Because when you start from Zero, you can only add to it. And around the middle of the project, I can say that I am damn happy that I joined it. Here is sharing my first week learning with you.
Day 1, of course, was a day of introduction and meeting the fellow project mates who came from various walks of life. From art teachers to photographers to real estate developers to consultants to management teachers. A good mix of people from various parts of the country and the globe. We got to meet our co-mentors who are well-established artists in Goa – Kaushik Ramanathan, Sylvia Kerkar, and Thomas Louis. And we would work closely with them over the next 3 weeks.
Orijit teased our brains by triggering a discussion on the words – Utopia and Dystopia and steered it towards how we interpret it for Goa. He shared the popular artistic expressions used to depict the concept. Tree of life is one of them. That is what we would be working on too. The 4 mentors had worked on a sketch of the tree and got it made into an iron frame already. Our project would be filling it up with our representations and interpretations.
Day 2 we started brainstorming on what are ideas that we want to put on either side of the tree, sitting right at the site where the installation would finally stand. The list went up on the walls and in our minds, we started playing with those images. Sylvia gave us clay to play with, Thomas explained few basic techniques of working with the clay and we all had our hands in clay trying to make something from it. We made all kinds of mistakes – not getting the right shape, not the right thickness, not joining the pieces together in the way they should be.
Some of us had worked with clay earlier but most of us were doing it for the first time and it was a sheer joy to be playing with the clay. At the end of the day, the box with our amateur creations was looked at with a lot of affection.
Progress of the first week
Day 3 the tree sketch was pasted on to the wall for us to have a look at and pick our areas to work on. I chose to re-create the prehistoric petroglyphs of Goa through its famous labyrinth. We trace our areas on tracing paper and start creating our designs on that area. Most people chose the flora and fauna of Goa and they started choosing the fruits, the birds, the animals and the fishes they are going to make. I learned how to draw a labyrinth. So it was primarily a drawing day. In the end, there was a lot of inspiration when Kaushik presented a series of sculptures that renowned artists have created the work.
Day 4 we met the metal frame of the tree as it was fixed at the place. This is when we realized that our drawing and metal frames do not match perfectly and re-traced all our frames again – marking the holes on the metal frame.
Day 5 was synthesizing all that we have created so far by putting our individual pieces on the frame. This is when we got into the details of how each piece would be crafted – how should it look in three dimensions. We also thought about how our individual pieces would come together as a whole. This was a day of detailing out our initial ideas.
Day 6 had to be missed in order to attend the Goa Arts & Literary Festival, but the rest of the team worked on the ideas for the Dystopia side of the tree where the tree would have stuff made from recycled stuff.
Week 2 would be in studios of the three co-mentors and will write about that next week, same day.
Recommend you read Utopia Dystopia project week 2 and completion below.
Utopia Dystopia Goa week II.
Utopia Dystopia completion week III.