“Bonjour”, “Namoskar”, “Namaste”, one hears greeting sounds of France and India as one enters the pavillion set up near Children’s Park, India Gate, New Delhi. The exhibition hosted in this 10,000 sq. ft. space, called The Experience: A Digital Journey With France, makes people experience the collaboration between the two distinct cultures of India and France.

This exhibition is a part of a four-month-long festival Bonjour India that will run from November 2017 to February 2018 and cover 100 projects in 33 cities across 20 states & union territories.

The pavilion opened to public on Thursday and will be present at the venue till Tuesday, 28 November. A range of artistic creations are on display at the show which is a captivating experience. The entire structure uses digital high-end technologies and also makes use of augmented reality. The exhibition showcases the strength of India and France through trade, industry, technology and arts.

One section of the exhibition displays books by French authors like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry(The Little Prince), Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time) along with their translated versions. The show is implemented by SpaceMatters which is an integrated design firm founded by Amritha Ballal. Ballal says, “We have grown up reading comics and books like Astereix and The Three Musketeers but most of us don’t recall them as texts by French authors. The idea of the exhibition is to make people aware that how France has been an important part of our lives.”

Photographs of S.H. Raza in France—an acclaimed artist who has lived in France for around 30 years in France, India’s supermodel Kirat Young with renowned designer Yves Saint Laurent and others showcase the French connection Indians had with France.

The entire project is coordinated and managed by Dr Bertrand de Hartingh, counsellor for cooperation and cultural affairs— director of the French Institute in India planned the exhibition. In a conversation with Guardian 20 he talks about the concept of the show. “The idea here is to showcase the rich cultural background of Indo-French journey through modern and interactive ways. The way Indian consumes art is very different from France in many ways. In France, to expose yourself to the arts one has to go out be it museums or other space. But in India art comes to your home. The guru visits the house to train a child in classical dance as soon as a child is two. I would personally want the French artists to come to India not just for a brief visit with respect to their shows but for months and acquire the culture in a sort of partnership with Indian artists.”

At the launch of The Experience, The Ambassador of France, Alexandre Ziegler said, “Today, we saw the launch of  The Experience which is a very important visual expression for Bonjour India showcasing the long term collaboration between India and France in a modern and innovative format.  The modern structure curated by the French Institute in India in collaboration with an Indian design firm “ Space Matters” is a strong representation of our efforts to bring forward collaborations reflecting on our past and present to build a strong future.” M.J. Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs was the chief guest of the show.

At The Experience: A Digital Journey With France, there are present various interactive kiosks. One installation here gives people information about various tourist spots in France through touch screen technology. In another section, visitors will find a number of steel tiffins installed through which people can find pictures and information on French cuisine in a fun and playful way.

The show is on view till 28 November and volunteers will be present at the pavilion to guide the visitors on various aspects of the exhibition.


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