Art by the Beach

Two wonderful art events held in Goa recently, the performance art installation Nari in Sari on Morjim beach and the immersive Tai Chi and sketching retreat –Aham, held by the beaches of Candolim-Sinquerim, celebrated both the beauty of the collective and the individual.

Text: Samira Sheth

Nari in Sari – the Feminine Collective

Women in groups follow each other, with their pallus fluttering in the wind as they make their way in rhythmic patterns on the sand, connecting to each other through the vividly coloured saris they are wearing.

Widely acclaimed Goan artist and founder of Museum of Goa (MOG), Subodh Kerkar creates a new work of performance with Nari in Saree (woman in a sari). The art installation, a “different, new kind of performance installation,” was held on the beaches of Morjim with a group of over 60 women to celebrate both womanhood and the iconic Indian garment.

Women of all ages and from varied backgrounds came together in response to Kerkar’s open call for participants. With the monsoon rains weakening and Goa’s multitude of shacks still not up for ‘the season’, the tranquil beaches of Morjim made the perfect site for the artist’s vision to take shape. While providing the stunning backdrop to this vibrant imagery, the beach also became an integral part of the performance. The sun, sand, sea, the breeze…all the elements came together to join in this joyful celebration of womanhood. Saree pallus waving in the wind; the play of shadows on sand as the brilliant afternoon light gave way to more faded tones; the rippling waves rising and receding with the flow of women in formations created by the artist – the artwork challenged the notion of traditional performance art, coming into being with the artist, the venue and the participants together.

The performance was recorded with cameras and drones by the super talented Weaero, the footage capturing the moment in time. Though Kerkar has worked with photography and stills for over a decade, he has newly embarked on this unconventional path combining elements of performance installation with drone photography and says he learnt aspects of this new form from the award winning film director Bharat Bala.  “I have worked a lot with the fishermen in Goa. For this project I wanted to work with women and celebrate the sari as well,” explains Kerkar. Deeply connected to the rhythms of the ocean, Kerkar often creates artworks inspired by the sea. To create this striking imagery, he drew patterns on the beach for the colourful ensemble of women to walk or sway in linear or circular forms and in one image gather into the symbol of the male gaze; the all women formation subverting the very idea of the male gaze.  The prolific artist plans to continue the sisterhood of the travelling sari and hold the performance on various beaches around Goa. Next time you’re out for a walk on the beach, keep an eye out for the dramatic naris in saris!

Aham- Retreat into your Self

Tai Chi on the beach at dawn and dusk interspersed with sessions of spontaneous drawing – Aham provided the ideal retreat for those looking to connect deeper with themselves.

Artist, craftsperson, writer and teacher Gopika Nath led participants through enriching spontaneous drawing sessions while Sonika Vickraman, Tai chi and Qi-Qong expert from the Alan Sinha School taught students elements of the ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique.

 Held over three days by the expansive beaches of Candolim – Sinquerim, the retreat was an interesting immersion into the different ways of exploring and awakening energy and getting into the ‘flow’ in art as well as in life.

“Connected”, “liberated”, “more aware” – were just some of the responses that emerged after.

A Fulbright Scholar and alumnus of The Central School of Art and Design, London, Gopika has been teaching art and design students and conducting workshops over three decades while Sonika is a veteran practitioner and teacher of karate and Tai Chi for over 28 years now. Both teachers bring a wealth of experience with them as they worked with participants to bring them into a state of flow.

Through the graceful and meditative movements of Tai Chi, Sonika took students deeper into themselves, making them more aware of their breathing and the connection between mind and body, by opening blocks on the spinal chakras. With her sessions on spontaneous drawing – a very ‘conscious’ act, which absorbs students fully ‘in the moment’, Gopika changed many perceptions about art and life, silencing the critical mind through a series of sketching challenges.

These little challenges, some no more than a minute or two, got students fully engaged, spontaneously bringing forth their subconscious ideas and feelings, letting them express themselves freely while staying non-judgmental about the drawings that emerged in the process.

Working on creativity, health and wellbeing – both inner processes – Tai Chi and drawing – provided an opportunity for participants to experience themselves, their connection with their life force energy or ‘prana’ and a state of being which flows in harmony with nature.

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Author: By Samira Sheth
Art collector & Curator Samira Sheth loves to explore what is new and exciting in food and art and particularly enjoys celebrating all things Goa.

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