At the Museum of Art and Photography (MAP), Bengaluru, the emphasis has always been on creating interdisciplinary connections. Such intersections of food, art and history have been seen as part of his virtual exhibit, Stories on a Banana Leaf, held earlier this year. And now Art is life: SoundFrames celebrates music and its power to bring people together. The three-day digital festival will feature 25 events such as concerts, performances, panel discussions, conferences, workshops, and more. The music showcase includes more than 65 artists from all over the world such as Ambi and Bindu Subramaniam, Ricky Kej, Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar and Vidya Shah.
This festival also marks MAP’s collaboration with the Berklee College of Music, which will allow viewers to attend unreleased concerts by the Berklee Indian Ensemble and Women of the World. The two also worked together on Sounds of the city, a public sound engagement in which composers and producers have created music inspired by the sounds of cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Delhi.
According to Kamini Sawhney, director of MAP Bengaluru, the arts in India have always been interconnected, with many musicians deeply influenced by the visual arts and many photographers comparing their work to literary structures. âMusic is universal in its appeal. We wanted to take advantage of that and the opportunity it provides to interact with a much larger audience, âshe says. âOur research has shown that the Indian public believes museums should offer more local and innovative content, and since our first digital launch in the pandemic, we’ve seen a marked increase in engagement with programs that bring relevant conversations. . “
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Organizing the festival was a daunting task, made possible by the partners and the MAP team, who collaborated remotely in studios spread across all geographic areas. The team believes the pandemic has brought surprising new ways in which people can stay connected despite isolation. According to Sawhney, this gave artists time at home, which resulted in many innovations. âTake, for example, Sounds of the city, a unique initiative that looks at musical creativity in the context of the electronic music of our time. It is led by Berklee faculty member and composer Yoel Genin, âshe says.
“The Drummer” by Tyeb Mehta. Courtesy: Museum of Art and Photography
The project is informed by the fact that just like the architecture, the streets and the food, sounds also shape our experience of cities. Genin invited producers from four Indian subways to capture the sounds that best define their cities and create music with them. As this was an open call, it brought new voices and perspectives. The aim was to invite the viewer to question notions of art and life in rapidly changing social dynamics and technology-driven urban spaces.
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Diversity is the central theme of the festival, with a range of genres – from folk and rap to Hindustani classical, and voices from marginalized communities – on display. A mix of major concerts and more intimate performances will be previewed over the three days. Workshops are immersive sessions for people with a serious interest in music, whether it’s songwriting, music therapy, and singing. There is also a range of educational workshops that explore the technological, historical and socio-political aspects of musical creation. Besides the Berklee College of Music, the Indian Music Experience (IME) is also a partner of these workshops.
Through such festivals, MAP seeks to broaden the scope of what a museum is supposed to do. âThrough our programs, we aim to bring art to the heart of the community, to offer enriching cultural experiences that create bonds and empathy. Our members include seasoned collectors and cultural connoisseurs as well as newcomers to the art, of all age groups, âsays Sawhney. âWe want to reinvent the perception of museums as archaic. We don’t see the visual arts in a silo and our programming has developed at the intersection of culture, technology and the communities around us, bringing together curators and collaborators from across India and the world to tell stories that inspire meaningful dialogue.
Art is Life: SoundFrames will be held from December 3-5, 2021
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