By : WADe Bureau | 20 Aug 2018 | TRENDING WADe TOPICS
The Inaugural keynote during WADe Asia 2017 was delivered by Padma Bhushan awardee, renowned artist and art curator, Shri Rajeev Sethi, one of South Asia’s leading designer, a man who is often credited to bringing the art scene in the Hospitality Industry in India, credited to curate the ‘Jaye He’ Art Walk at Mumbai T2 Airport, amongst numerous other projects, someone who has devoted years to revive, restore contemporaries traditional Indian Arts, Crafts, even performance arts. He is the founder of Rajeev Sethi Scenographers as well as Asian Heritage Foundation in New Delhi.
SURFACES REPORTER as official media partner of WADe Asia, presents some of the important points raised by Shri Sethi in his address to the august gathering of eminent architects, designers, artists from India & South East Asia; thoughts that we feel should be heard by all, especially young designers and artists.
The Art Scene at The Leela Ambience – Transformation
As a welcome surprise, WADe Asia was being held at ‘The Leela Ambience, Gurgaon’, whose art scene was co-incidentally curated by Rajeev Sethi, naturally refreshing memories and nostalgia. He tell us how it all started with a poem that set the journey of the Art work at Leela.
“I reflecting on Gurgaon and its changes as I called the whole program as ‘India Gurgaoned’ and the title for the artwork was ‘Imago’ – that transitional moment, that little state in which things transforms and really it iswas transforming very rapidly. In the poem I called, Gurgaon as “Jaggery Village,” he says.
Transformation embodied the spirit of the Hotel and the area and the poem helped him decide upon the ultimate program. “The art commission for The Leela Gurgaon revolves around the notion of imagined identities. The glitzy, glass exterior stimulating best in modernity. The bursting and the bustling call centers with American accented inhabitance, living to clocks elsewhere, the consumerism of Mega malls…” he added.
The Nation is facing a creative crisis
“We are facing a creative crisis, just look forward a generation or two and there is nothing we can call our own. We are doomed if we do not address the dearth of investment in art and imaginative capacity.”
Rajeev Sethi feels, this somewhat defines, how we as nation we find ourselves positioned today. “We renegotiate our pasts and our global presence; perhaps we are redefining our future as a global multi-national.”
“ I am delighted Vertica ji, to see people from South Asia in WADe. More power to you so that this forum grows and I’m sure only women will do it. Men might be much slower. They should really connect here with women from all over south Asia and be able to make a statement that needs to be heard!”
We must realise the Role of Art in Society
Every architecture/building construction has 2% budget share in art. As social entrepreneurs we have not stepped up to see the impact that arts can have on every issue we care about. Questioning if it is all true to undersell the power of art, Shri Sethi asks if it makes sense that India with its 2% budget and millions and millions of people with great skills, are still not able to do something about inspiring society through art. Being able to do ‘More’ with ‘Less’ He pointed out to an incredible skill that Indians are often famous for, to be able to do more with less, “What I probably learned in my mother’s womb is incredible capacity to do more with less, how to not really recycle but to really do the most you can in such a creative way it’s often misread as ‘jugadu’, but it is an amazing capacity we are losing out to.”
Art without Emotion is Nothing – Anubhooti is Key
He expresses how there is nothing about art or architecture, if it does not have emotion. If it doesn’t move you, even if its great in form, may be amazing in the use of its materials; may reflect skills that has never been done before, but if it does not move you, its nothing. Rajeev Sethi believes that it requires a very immersive engagement. He therefore urges young designers,
“Never let the essence, in any way, not be the most important aspect in your creative work. In our schools we don’t study ‘rasa’, we don’t study ‘anubhooti.’ That is something I’m asking everyone to explore. Never let that sense shrink.”
Acquiring Tactile experience is very important
Citing how one can’t learn to swim without entering into water, he says that its very important to acquire skills. One must be able to work with your hands and understand what being tactile is. Human hand is an amazing instrument – only we can move our hands in certain way -we have a universal joint, very sdexterous which directly impacts our mind.
Foster Trance, Discipline & Re-collaborations
In this ‘being able to find colloborations’ he says, we must not forget our ‘Pehchan’ – a word which means more than just ‘identity or recognition.’ If we don’t have it, we go into imitation and imitation invariably is about mediocrity.
Seek Spiritual Resonance
Look at any great architecture, literature, meta-physics, philosophy, has extraordinary manifestations anywhere ever possible without some spiritual persuasion? He asks. Ask yourself, am I on the right track as a professional?
“For too long we have allowed arts and culture to be treated as nicety not a necessity. The first budget cut – and the last investment made – Art.”
I don’t think its good design if it makes you jobless, voiceless, ruthless or futureless
New rules, New building materials never helped the use of our already skilled builders making them jobless. A lot of work is redone. So I don’t think it’s good design if it makes you jobless, voiceless, rootless, ruthless or futureless. Voiceless means varied franchises take their decisions. Rootless, where we have no sense of who we are and where we come from. Ruthless, when there no respect for gender, for physically challenged people, for the rich and the poor, the children and the others and their design does not taken into consideration, it’s ruthless design. And, then futureless – when we do not even apply materials with minimal carbon footprints. For anything that you use, remember someone else must be paying for it.
“I always think, For every 25 rupee spent on my education 25 paisa came from the pockets of the man whose never seen the inside of the school – because there are indirect taxations. And what have I done? How do I give back? So I think the gifting process, finding a way to reuse is a must to our education.”
Coming together of South Asia is crucial
Rajeev Sethi in conclusion expressed how delighted he was to see the presence of South East Asian Women Architects and Designers at WADe Asia. South Asia has 40% of the world’s poor and also one of the most militarised countries, spawning an industry of hate and are growing distant from each other, therefore we need to connect more and more and ask ourselves ‘who is this other? “I am delighted Vertica ji, to see people from South Asia here, and I say more power to you so that this forum grows and I’m sure only women will do it. Men might be much slower. They should connect here with women from all over south Asia and be able to make a statement that needs to be heard!”
Lastly, Rajeev Sethi ends with a mention of his special project for the Smithsonian, that he hopes to place in 2020, he gives WADe Asia a easy slogan to carry on – A Talisman – “Diversity, Connectivity, Empowerment’
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