The 2014 edition of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF) ended today or rather would have by the time I publish this blog post.
A 9-day festival of all things art, the KGAF 2014 offered various programmes in the area of children, cinema, dance, food, heritage walks, literature, music, street, theatre, visual art, workshops, and urban design and architecture. This was the 16th edition of the KGAF and like previous years, every event and programme on offer was free.
Like every year, I made a beeline for the visual / installation art. And unlike previous years, I also made an effort to register and participate in some of the heritage walks as well as a workshop on offer. This meant that I was able to discover something more about this beautiful city of mine and fall in love with Mumbai all over again. 🙂
Let me take you through the highlights of what I saw and experienced at the KGAF 2014. First up are the visual art /installations and stalls, followed by some captures from the Heritage Walks / Tours I went on.
The visual art / installations were not grand or flashy or eyeball catching like the KGAF 2013. One could even be forgiven for thinking that they were boring and uninteresting. That was my first impression too, but when I read the artist statement or concept note or the information board given, I was able to look at the artwork with a new understanding.
There were many new entrants to those participating in the stalls at KGAF 2014. But with many stalls putting up a “no photography” sign or a crowd of people standing outside, there were very few opportunities to photograph the stuff on display. Sharing a couple that I managed to take here:
I attended 5 Heritage Walks/Tours: Mumbai High Court, Jewish Heritage, Stained Glass, Art Deco and Port & Harbour Tour and for me, they were the highlight of KGAF 2014. Though the Heritage Walks/Tours in itself were good, the organisation and management of the same left a lot to be desired. I’ll be writing more about the Heritage Walks /Tours over the next couple of weeks or so. Till then, have a look at some images from 3 of the walks.
Growing popularity and word-of-mouth accounts of the KGAF has meant that it is getting bigger every year. The KGAF 2014 was bigger than its previous editions in every way — crowds, security measures, response to various programmes on offer, etc. Till last year, the crowds would be overwhelming only on weekends and on weekday evenings and one could come on a weekday morning to walk through the installations and browse the stalls. There was no such differentiation this year — Rampart Row, where the KGAF is held, was packed all though with people and their camera gear. I can safely and confidently state that there was more camera gear and mobiles than people !
My brother, who came all the way from Pune for the KGAF one afternoon, promptly dubbed it the Kala Ghoda Selfie Festival 😛
This time around, I actually visited KGAF one weekday morning, before the stalls opened and before the crowds came in just to see the installation art on display. I arrived at around 8 am, walked around in peace and at my pace, photographed the ones that appealed to me (Now you know why most of my photographs do not have any people crowding in), and then went in to work.
What a pleasure it was to not get shoved or pushed or being asked to move or have someone request to pleasssse click their photograph, or get distracted by selfies being taken ! While selfies don’t bother me so much (well, as long as my FB and Twitter timelines don’t get clogged with them), it was disturbing to see young college kids getting clicked with a ‘V’ sign and huge grins on their faces in front of installations that were about issues like child sexual abuse or rape or Down’s Syndrome. 😦
Over the years, the KGAF has seen growing concerns and protests by residents and offices at the venue due to increasing crowds and noise levels. One such protest led to street performances being shifted from Rampart Row to Cross Maidan last year. This year, another resident has filed a case complaining about the inconvenience and nuisance caused by the KGAF. The Bombay High Court is considering shifting the venue of the KGAF from 2015.
I hate crowds and stay away from any events or programmes that bring them. The only exception I make, year after year, is the KGAF. Though I always declare after every KGAF that “I can’t handle the crowds anymore, and I’m not going there next year”, I always do. Such is the magic of the KGAF. This year was no exception.
But will there be a 2015 edition of the KGAF at Rampart Row beginning on the first February of the year?
I don’t know. But I certainly hope so.
Read more about the other editions of the KGAF