Plan and Concept Note for the ISF-2006

CULTURAL PLAN FOR THE INDIA SOCIAL FORUM, INDIA, 9th –13th November, 2006: PROPOSAL

India has made many significant contributions to the WSF process of which one aspect that perhaps finds the most mention is the inclusion of culture – not as a mere appendage to political agenda but as an integral and central part of the WSF itself. The 4th WSF held in Mumbai in January 2004, underscored cultural diversity and included culture in the discourse on globalisation. The WSF 2004, created an ambience conducive to valuing culture as a political statement, to seeing art works as interventions in current discourses and in recognising cultural practices as serious modes of political mobilization, an ambience where various forms of cultural expressions could co-exist without losing their specificity, dignity, vigour and autonomy.

Culture @ ISF will draw on the rich experience of WSF 2004 as well as locate locale and time specific cultural strands to activate and articulate some of the primary concerns and contradictions of our times. The cultural space thus created will also provide a platform for multiple voices. Of particular concern to Culture is the growing marginalisation and obliteration of traditional art forms and artists in the face of aggressive globalisation and resultant consumerist culture. Hence, Culture @ ISF will celebrate people’s culture, cultural diversity and provide a geographical and sectoral representation to art forms, art works and artists, that will together and individually, reflect the themes and concerns of the ISF.

Within this framework the Culture Plan will include four kinds of activities:
Process oriented activities – these will aim to engage younger people and other artistes in material created especially for the ISF – daily bulletins, collaborative installation art.
Mobilisational Activities – workshops and travelling exhibitions around the themes of the WSF which create awareness about related issues as well as activities that publicise the occurrence of this major event.
Opening and Closing evenings
Event oriented activities – programs and performances during the conference. Some of these will be curated and some will be open.

Space design
The ISF is being held in the city of Delhi and it stands to reason to use Delhi metaphorically to reflect some of the concerns of the ISF as also familiarise participants from outside to some of the specificities of the city. (For instance, the new master plan of Delhi 2010 that aims to beautify and ready the city for the commonwealth games are going to lead to massive displacement.) Using existing photographs, posters, research, films and music, Delhi itself will form a backdrop to the ISF. Some possible thematics will be:-
Labour in Delhi
Life in the bastis
Historical Delhi – from the rulers to the wandering Sufis
A city of migration and displacement

Also the space itself will be used in an innovative manner to reflect as well as draw attention to the themes of the ISF. The spaces will be expressive, that not only provides a venue for different events and happenings but are forms of expressions in themselves. The entire venue will be circumscribed by visual – posters, painting, slogans – with empty and open spaces for delegates to put up their visuals. The visual boundary will not only demarcate the ISF space but will also thematically reflect the concerns. Colour will play an important role in the demarcation.

The performative and exhibition spaces will be connected to other free spaces, openings, corridors and meeting and seminar areas in a manner that is representative, evocative and reflexive. These ambiguous, connective spaces will also reflect the themes, and be used to create transition from one spatial-thematic terrain to another.

Criss-crossing the entire venue will be routes/ roads that will be defined by audio. Using progressive songs, popular music, speeches, poetry and other texts, the audio tunnels will lead people to specific areas of interest. Interspersed through out this will be open ground for people to sit, relax, discuss, reflect. Many spaces will come alive with interactive stalls, workshops, paintings etc. along them will be thematic walls of stories.


OPENING AND CLOSING EVENINGS

Opening & Closing Event
The aim is locate strong performers, singers and musicians who are able to galvanise huge audiences, touch hearts and communicate but who are not necessarily visible in the present day glare of the corporate media. The effort will also be locate artists who are using traditional forms but also questioning, interpreting and expanding the forms itself. For eg. the group of Dalit women drummers from Madurai, Tamilnadu, have not only moved into a male bastion - of drumming - but have used a traditionally feudal form – of drumming – as a format for collectivised protest. The artists will be from different regions of India, and also reflect different performative genres. Additionally, two artists/ performative groups will be invited from Africa and Latin America.


MOBILISING ACTIVITIES

Travelling Film Festival
A package of international films reflecting the themes of the ISF, will tour various places in Delhi as a lead up to the final event in January.

Poster competitions
Poster competitions will be held in schools of the city on the ISF themes. Some of the selected posters will be printed and displayed at the ISF.

Travelling street theatre
A specially created play will be performed across Delhi, especially in the slums and bastis to mobilise people.

PROCESS ORIENTED ACTIVITIES

Installation art/ poster creation
At the venue artists and students will create installation and posters that reflect the themes of the ISF.

Collaborative art
Artists from different parts of the country, using different medium, will work together to create something live.

Growing tree
A skeletal tree – made of steel wires – will become green and come alive through a series of notes, workshop outcomes, poetry, comments, protest messages written on pieces of green paper cut out into leaves, and pasted onto the tree continually.

EVENT ORIENTED ACTIVITES

There will be one large, proscenium stage – for an audience of 1000 - and three outdoor stages in different parts of the venue. The cultural committee will also look into spaces that are expressive, that not only provide a venue for different events and happenings but are forms of expressions in themselves.

The 4 stages will be created, in North, South, East and West of the venue.

The following list is of events are being planned:-

 
  1. SPACE FOR BANNED ART.
  2. THEATRE in form of street and proscenium.
  3. LIVING NEWSPAPER
  4. SONGS
  5. PUPPETS
  6. DANCE
  7. PANTOMIME
  8. HISTORY WALL – using existing films, posters, pamphlets and artefacts the journey from Caracas to Nairobi, via new Delhi will be represented. A few volunteers will be stationed to explain, provide more information etc.
  9. FILMS (simultaneously in 3 venues)
    • The travelling film festival on alternatives curated for WSF 05
    • South Asian Feature films
    • International/ South Asian/ Indian documentary films
  10. EXHIBITIONS on
    • Hunger
    • Displacement
    • Borders
    • Poster women
    • Delhi – historical, cultural, working, living
 
The exhibition space will flow into the performative and meeting spaces to also provide a backdrop and context to them. Many of the exhibitions already exist and were used in the WSF 2005 and can be called for the ISF. The Delhi exhibitions, created with minimal resources, will be spatially spread out and transformative that can be viewed as individual and complete sub sections or as a meta narrative running through the entire space of the ISF, reflecting the themes and raising concerns.