In order to identify the current trends in the world of art, one has to look beyond the academies and established art galleries. More often than not, the zeitgeist-setting art movements unfold in the seemingly quiet nooks and crannies of a city’s independent art scene. The Indie Arts Week (IAW) festival, which opens this Sunday in Delhi, aims to put the spotlight on such marginal, yet significant, figures in contemporary Indian art who have shunned the shallow waters of the mainstream, in favour of more substantive, more experimental work.

Over a hundred artists — from the fields of painting, photography, cinema, music and theatre — are part of the IAW this year, slated to be held at four separate venues across Delhi over the next seven days. According to the organisers, events ranging from film screenings to art exhibitions, from music concerts to standup comedy, are on the itinerary of IAW 2017, making it a treat for enthusiasts from all sorts of cultural backgrounds.

“The festival will feature 100-plus artists for over a week at seven different venues.  These include the IAW Viewing Room, where the film screenings will take place; the Optik Lounge, which will be our visual-arts gallery; the Grey Area, where we’ll have our stage for live performances; the Spotlight, to host events related to theatre and comedy; the Drone Den, for sonic art; and Bargain X, for installations, exhibitions and makers’ market. Apart from all this, a launch event will be held at Khoj, besides two massive after-parties for all participants and attendees,” said a representative of the organising body.

The Summer House Cafe, Bandstand, Khoj Arts Gallery, Dhan Mill Compound Warehouses, Auro and Annagram Architects are among the seven venues earmarked for the event, making it virtually a pan-Delhi festival likely to register decent footfall.

The event is sure to be a crowd-puller. But more than that, it presents a welcome opportunity for participating artists to discover new strains in contemporary arts. The platform is also to be seen as a potential collaborative ground, where individuals can get together and explore possibilities of building new cultural vanguards. The festival itinerary itself is designed with a view to facilitating such creative partnerships. 

Poster for IAW 2017

The IAW is the initiative of Rohan Kulshreshtha, otherwise known for his duties on the guitar for the popular band Peter Cat Recording Co. “IAW is a multidisciplinary conglomeration of gifted individuals. Our features and showcases will take you through a whirlwind of independent works and we aim to be a destination for discovery, as far as multiple Indie art forms are concerned. We also aim to promote collaborative presentations through the festival, which is spread across some intriguing spaces in New Delhi, and this would possibly be the largest multidisciplinary showcase of original works by indie artists,” said Kulshreshtra of RonDog Entertainment, who is also the festival curator.

The platform is also to be seen as a potential collaborative ground, where individuals can get together and explore possibilities of building new cultural vanguards. The festival itinerary itself is designed with a view to facilitating such creative partnerships.  

Among the highlights of the event is a “sonic art” performance to be hosted at one of the venues. As the term suggests, sonic art combines the elements of visual arts and music in a kind of live show that encompasses the entire space it is held at, with the help of a 360-degree projection scheme. There are also more conventional performances to look forward to — the most anticipated being a gig by the Delhi-based rock band Them Clones.

“This is being done to create a platform for the independent arts,” Kulshreshtra said. “All the artists who are part of the festival have original works to exhibit and display. For visitors, we aim to be a platform for discovery, helping them broaden their perspectives with every visit. The event has been designed with an intense focus on highlighting the underdogs of the art scene, and to engage them in collaborative performances. Since it’s a multidisciplinary platform, we have musicians, filmmakers, writers, illustrators, luthiers, artisans, actors, playwrights and so on, are all part of the programme.”

Indian band Teddy Boy Kill, another name on the IAW 2017 billing.

According to IAW’s publicity statement: “The India Art Week doesn’t just cater to any one form of art, but many different forms. The focus of this festival is on those individual artists, who prefer to keep themselves away from the rat race, and work towards providing great output, to however big or small their circle of fans, or humbly put, appreciators be. And while this is one side of the whole plan, the other equally important bit is to not just introduce people to new artists, but also, newer art forms, which sadly people are unaware of. The prime focus of the festival is to bring artists and people of varied interests under one roof, and make them experience the magic, they haven’t even heard of before.”

This one-of-its-kind festival is sure to energise Delhi’s art community weeks before the onset of a lean summer season, when galleries and curators go on a hiatus, while the independent circuit continues to buzz.

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