12/01/2016 11:22 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

7 Compelling Reasons To Visit Sensorium 2016

A festival of art, theatre and literature, Sensorium 2016 will be running until 20 February at Sunaparanta, Goa. All events are free and open to the public.

Anju Dodiya_The Golden Repose

A festival of art, theatre and literature, Sensorium 2016 will be running until 20 February at Sunaparanta, Goa. All events are free and open to the public.

Performance art with Nikhil Chopra (14 Jan)

Anyone who's sat and marvelled at a performance by Nikhil Chopra inevitably lands a master class in narrative: Chopra so becomes his character it makes you question who he was before his adopted avatar. It's as if everything in his being were lunging toward this performance; his practice draws on theatre, music, art, and most importantly, how to be perfectly present in yourself as someone else.

[Nikhil Chopra's] practice draws on theatre, music, art, and most importantly, how to be perfectly present in yourself as someone else.

At Sensorium, Chopra takes his role as artist to another level: he nurtures younger artists to present their art. This is the excellent work he does out of his own facility, Heritage Hotels, where residencies for artists and performance evenings collate international and domestic talent, vaporising into a big-funky Studio 54-meets-Siolim space. I'm a huge fan of the movement he's channelling there (along with Madhavi Gore and Romain Loustau) and I'm saving my seat to watch him get his threads on 14 January at Sunaparanta -- a lecture where he breaks down his past performances; and later, on, 1 February when he brings some Heritage Hotel young guns to shoot barrels while we take down the method at a Shanghvi Salon.


Bharti Kher

Exploring the artistic process with Bharti Kher (17 Jan)

She's smart as a tack, visionary and brilliant, and totally on point. Her work is powerfully conceptual, exploring identity and transcending identity, taking on motifs as pervasive as the bindi or reconstructed mirrors (I saw her work first in Paris, where I was blown away by the mirrors, they had such a distinctive and sepulchral language that the foundational aesthetic was entirely its own thing).

At Sensorium she keeps alive the Shanghvi Salon; we hope to explore the primary theme of love -- for work, for motifs, for people, landscapes and art -- and we aim to build on the craft of conversation. When I think about how Sensorium came to be I feel lucky I could serve the Shanghvi Salons at Sunaparanta, where artists as varied as Anne Enright and William Dalrymple came to speak about the processes that brought their work to life. Two years into this program Sensorium was born, which showcases the work emergent of these processes. Phew. We're all growing. So glad Ms Kher is here to keep us on our toes.

I feel oddly protective about [Mithu Sen's] sublime new work... it throbbed with passion and truth, and something deeply, intensely familiar: private conversation.

Original work by Mithu Sen

I feel oddly protective about the sublime new work Sen made for Sensorium. Part of it was realised as I hung out at my beach office in Morjim and she communicated to me from her mysterious location -- we exchanged long chats on FB messenger, discussing animal sex, retreats by the sea, art, love and loss. We chatted also about the work she was making, and as she went about her noble and difficult task of creating it, I'd send her photographs from the shore -- a tawny dog, a stretch of beach. Somehow, all of it finds a way to land into this tall and glorious work she has made for us at Sensorium, and when I saw it I realised that it throbbed with passion and truth, and something deeply, intensely familiar: private conversation.

Spoken word with Jeet Thayil

Jeet is easily one of my favourite people. Poet, novelist, and rock star, he performed at the opening night of Sensorium last year-- our audience was left awestruck. This year he curates a series of spoken word performances (he runs a program out in Delhi and now brings the cream of these acts to Goa). Jeet has a great gift of being hugely cerebral and entirely fun, in the way only someone who has seen the dark underbelly of life can, and he brings this volcanic talent and humour to Sensorium in mid-February. What one learns from watching Jeet perform is how the various mediums -- the written word, poetry, music, the projected image - all come together in a magic way, singular and overwhelming.


Anju Dodiya, The Golden Repose (2015)

A Salon with Atul and Anju Dodiya (11 Feb)

Anju's work has a stark, moody, bold air, the characters are often women, who all appear as if they are solving the dilemma of madness, loss or tremendous beauty. The work appears flung out of the artist with a great sigh of remembrance. Atul, on the other hand, is inspired by language (I remember writing him a letter after seeing his show in Bombay, some of which was jumpstarted by Gujarati texts) or as it is for Sensorium this year, direct and beautiful, elliptical and entirely forthright. But it is Anju's work specially made for Sensorium that grabs my heart -- and when you see it you will know why. The work has the quality of a snow globe, icy and beautiful, elusive and diminishing by the second, and yet it fills the space with nostalgia of things one has yet to encounter.


Can champagne be an event? Of course! And when it's the rather dandy new offering from Chandon, the best bubbly in the country by a long shot, it makes our events more mazedar. There's tons going around -- it's light, full of summer, with sly citrus notes and a clean, decisive finish -- so we expect you to solicit refills.


William Dalrymple at the Sunaparanta library, pictured with Elena Pereira's work

While you're taking in the bubbles we recommend you stand before our artists' works -- Anita Dube in the foyer, Elena Pereira in the Grey Room, Arpita Singh, Roger Ballen, Richard Bartholomew and A Ramchandran in the main galleries, Atul Bhalla in a chamber of his own (by the frangipani tree), and Mona Rai, Alexander Gorlinzski, Manish Parikh and Thukral & Tagra. I'm restricting myself to mentioning just a few names here but that's only so I can leave the program for you to discover.


Book shrine to Prabuddha Dasgupta

Prabuddha Dasgupta's book

Prabuddha Dasgupta's photographs have a lava quality, dark, fiery, with a hidden smouldering strength. The best ones are immediately recognisable for their form and sensuality; the hidden gems pursue intimacy. Tania Dasgupta has accomplished a remarkable job -- a labour of love and dexterity -- collating the photographer's pictures into a book we are delighted to launch in Goa at Sensorium. In a gesture of some homage I set down to create a book shrine for Dasgupta, a cabinet for the books to roost along with the great photographer's unseen childhood pictures, an antique papier mâché dove, fresh pomegranates, wild ginger flowers from the gardens of Sunaparanta, coral --perhaps these elements keep this fine book, and this dearly beloved photographer snatched away too soon, some quiet company.

Sensorium 2016 is proudly supported by the Huffington Post. Shanghvi is honorary director of the festival which is hosted by Sunaparanta: Goa Centre for the Arts, under the patronage of Dattaraj and Dipti Salgaocar.

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