Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Chronicles of a house

Nine artists from the newly formed Goa Artists Collective have debuted a new show ‘Poonam Lodge - When does a house cease to be a house’ at an old heritage home in Fontainhas

14th March 2018, 07:00 Hrs

CHRISTINE MACHADO


For many years, the old house in Fontainhas stood in disarray. Amidst other old Portuguese structures painted in happy hues, the once grand home which was constructed in 1917 seemed almost invisible. But no longer. 

Having over the years been a dormitory, a whole sale store for bags, a temporary library and also the Poonam Lodge, the house has now become the centre of artistic attention as it plays host to the first ever show by the Goa Artists Collective – Poonam Lodge - When does a house cease to be a house.

Consisting of nine core members, the collective which was formed earlier this year ,aims to promote artistic experimentation and exchange and be at the forefront of promoting new contemporary art trends. They are looking at inviting other artists to be a part of the group and showcase their talent and hope to hold about four art activites per year.

“All of us in this group have showcased our art at galleries, festivals and exhibitions across India and beyond and we noticed that more and more international artists are choosing to exhibit their works here in Goa. So we thought why don’t we also organise out own exhibitions instead of galleries curating and hosting it for us? And that is how the collective came about,” says Kedar Dhondu, one of the artists, adding that they earlier had come together as the Pormar Collective. Under the leadership of artist Pradeep Naik and with the support and guidance of renowned photographer Dayanita Singh, the Goa Artists Collective took shape.

Their first show Poonam Lodge - When does a house cease to be a house which opened on March 11 puts forth the question – If a house continues to be rebuilt and reused, so that its original materials and purpose changes many times, is it the same house? Does it accumulate and harbours many identities with the passage of time, or manifests itself differently each time you encounter it?

“ Ebrahim Haroon, the grandson of the owner of the house is a friend of Pradeep. When he heard that we were looking for a heritage home for our exhibition, he opened the doors of his old house for us with open arms,” says Kedar.

And the exhibition which is spread out across the pretty house presents their various interesting interpretations of their definition of house. Ramdas Gadekar’s  installation Meu Amor, pays tribute to the owner of the house by portraying the relationship between the lady and this old house, who are almost of the same age – both old, yet strong. Pradeep Naik’s work Keys of Grandeur in terracotta and acrylic colour will especially strike a note with owners of old heritage homes with a cluster of big keys . Kedar Dhondu’s Dark Dusk focuses on the Indo Portuguese houses. While one part focuses on the houses that are closed now owing to family disputes and migration to other cities. The other part of it focuses on the homes which are now occupied by the mundkars or tenants who are now eligible for ownership of a certain area of the land.

Bhisaji Gadekar’s performance art with an installed structure is also especially interesting as he tries to play out the different stories of the house under it’s different occupancies – from a home to a dormitory and then a library. The performance show will run for five days and onlookers can interact with Gadekar while he is performing.

Through Gozadi (Quilt), a water colour on paper, Shilpa Maynekar Naik remembers her grandmother who used to stitch quilts from her old sarees and old dresses while Diptej Vernekar’s Where do I lie looks into the identity of an object in the midst of constant change.

Sidhesh Chari’s Torch installation is meant to create a sense of rediscovery of a certain thing, which already existed in this case the house and the Cabinet of Curiosity by Kalidas Mhamal is filled with souvenirs, each of which have their own meaning and memory attached to it.

When Soumitrimayee Paital married and settled in Goa, she faced a lot of harassment and mockery at the hands of her neighbours who did not accept her. Through Enemy at the Door, she pours out her frustration and how it affected her self- esteem

Speaking about why they chose to hold their exhibition in a heritage home, Kedar states that the place matters. “It all depends on the conceptual thought of the work. A house like this gives a more proper impact for this kind of work as compared to a white polished space,” he explains. Such spaces are less informal as compared to galleries which has it’s own advantages, adds Shilpa. “People are more hesitant to enter a formal setting like a gallery. At this exhibition we have had even a driver walk in just to see what was going on,” she says. At the same time, this also becomes a way to showcase Goan heritage homes, says Kedar. “In the future we will be looking at  using other heritage homes across different locations in Goa,” he says.

Apart from the exhibition, there will also be art presentations by Orijit Sen and Nikhil Chopra at the site.

(‘Poonam Lodge - When does a house cease to be a house’ will remain on view till March 25 at Poonam Lodge in Fontainhas, Panaji)

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