from The Hindu, Feb 15, 2015
Auroville Festival set to unravel its idea of sustainable existence
Art and the universal township of Auroville have a link that go beyond its conducive, green and multicultural environment.
Sri Aurobindo, whose teachings resonate in the intrinsic fabric of this ‘City of Dawn,’ had said that art is an important aspect of human life that acts on different spheres, from the purely aesthetic to the intellectual and educative, and finally the spiritual dimension.
The Mother, whose vision led to the manifestation of Auroville had said, “Auroville will be known through the arts…” This affinity for the arts will be a major highlight of the upcoming Auroville Festival (March 1 to 21) to be held across Chennai.
The Auroville Festival with the theme, ‘What is Auroville’ has been designed to help Chennaiites answer that question and in the process gain a sense of its diverse activities and projects, especially in the area of sustainable existence.
Afforestation, organic agriculture, educational research, holistic health care, small and medium-scale business, renewable energy, and of course art and craft are areas in which Auroville has made significant strides in.
“Many people come from Chennai, visit the viewing point of Matrimandir, and go back. This event aims to show visitors what we are doing here,” says Fabienne Marechal of Auroville Outreach Media.
After similar festivals in Delhi and Bhubaneshwar, Aurovillians wanted to reach out to the State in which they are located and have worked closely with, Tamil Nadu.
Though the link between Auroville and Tamil Nadu are present on many levels, from Aurovillians taking courses in IIT and in the field of fashion designing and the eco-restoration of the Adyar Creek, people are unaware of these interactions, says Krishna Devanandan, one of the organisers of the festival.
“We want to bring this decades-long relationship in the spotlight,” she says.
Marco Feira, who is curator for the art exhibitions, says, “Art is a big part of Auroville life. We are surrounded by nature, which is inspiring. As artists we are constantly searching, and Auroville is a 360 degree experiment. We have a variety of artists from all over the world. Working in Auroville has given artists a different approach on life and art.”
Artist Oorothumkandy Ramesh agrees. “The multicultural and unique society we live in reflects in our works.”
Visitors can expect to see paintings, sculptures, ceramic art, up-cycled art, photography, videos and wax installations.
Art exhibitions open earlier than the festival, with a month-long ceramic art exhibition at the INKO Cultural Centre, featuring five artists from Auroville, among others.
The ‘What is Auroville’ exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi (March 8 to 21) will feature 20 Auroville artists.
From miniature works to the gigantic three-metre high ceramic work ‘Tower of Rakhee’ by artist Rakhee Kane, and everything in between, organisers promise something for every art lover.
There will also be exhibitions at seven other galleries over the course of the next couple of months.
“The exhibitions open new possibilities for artists and help them make new connections,” says Mr. Marco Feira.
There are also choir performances, including a children’s choir (March 7, at Sir Mutha Venkatasubha Rao Concert Hall), a crafts bazaar (March 1-21, at Dakshinachitra) and an Auroville Ethical Market (Amethyst).
The Hindu is a partner for the festival which is also supported by Lalit Kala Akademi, Dakshinachitra, Max Mueller Bhavan, Prakriti Foundation, NIFT and reStore.
by Annie Philip