In the land of butter chicken, boisterous bhangra and balley-balley, there exists a softer, more contemplative and deeper ethos. Panorama Punjab, an arts and culture forum, aims to revive this forgotten ethos and bring Punjab’s beautiful traditions and intriguingly complicated history under the spotlight. The forum is appropriately set in Qila Mubarak, the newly restored palace that was the seat of the royal family of Patiala, and it promises to be everything that the current, colloquial perception of Punjab is not.
Heart Of It
The geographical location of Punjab has placed it in the very center of the corridor of exchange of ideas. Invaders, conquerors, travelers, and traders have all passed through this fertile land in search of glory, wealth, and wisdom. On the other hand, the land’s very fertility has given it a culture based on its verdant fields. This earthiness is reflected in the music, art and cinema that the region produces. But there is more to Punjab than agriculture; it is a culture that is vibrant, yet sensitive; colorful, yet deeply sentimental; earthy, yet sophisticated.
Sarah Singh, a descendant of the royal family of Patiala, and the forum’s founder and architect, wants to highlight this very hybrid nature of Punjabi culture with Panorama Punjab. She has envisioned it as an international salon-style forum which will focus on experimental cinema, music, art and architecture, while also initiating a Punjab-centric conversation. The forum’s agenda is aptly reflected by the venue – Qila Mubarak – which itself is a mishmash of various architectural styles from different periods, but remains beautifully imposing all the same.
The three-day forum will feature talks on fashion, history, architecture, heritage and even Bollywood. The talks will be held by people who are acknowledged authorities in their respective fields like Susan Stronge from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, designers JJ Vallaya, author Mohammed Hanif and Jill Spalding, former Vogue editor. The topics of these talks and panel discussions range from an analysis of the architectural skills of Pierre Jeanerette, the overlooked cousin of the famed architect of Chandigarh, Le Corbusier, and the city’s co-architect, to a tribute to the legendary Bollywood actor, Om Puri, and a discussion on the iconic film Maachis, set in troubled Punjab.
The festival will also feature a wide array of folk and contemporary musicians who will explore the connection between music and art. Belgian band Bossa Brothers promises to enthrall the visitors with Bossa Nova jazz.
One of the main events of the forum is the screening of experimental films. The Iranian poet and artist Shahram Karimi’s video on Italian prisoners, Open The Door, will be screened as a part of this effort. Other works of film and new media will be projected on the fort walls, ensuring a surreal experience. Sarah Singh has carefully chosen each the location at the fort for these screenings to accentuate the tonality of the works of art.
With such an interesting mix of old and new, history and art and legacy and loss, Panorama Punjab is bound to set a new standard for cultural experiences in Punjab.
Artistic expression and dialogue in Punjab has been long-hindered by cultural appropriation and the myopic view that the world has had about what the state stands for. Any kind of platform that aims to reopen the conversation on the state’s rich culture, history and heritage is not only unique, it’s eminently important.
With Panorama Punjab, Sarah Singh also aspires to have a platform where women have an equal voice. The core exhibit on experimental films is co-curated by Lara Pan and Shahram Karimi. Featured artists include Meghan Boody and Valentina Lacmanovic. Maristella Casciato will explore Pierre Jeanerette’s architecture, while Gurmeet Rai will detail the heritage of Patiala. Women have a pivotal role to play in Panorama Punjab and this is vitally important for a region where machismo and chauvinism are perceived to be de rigeur.
Perceptions – that’s what Panorama Punjab aims to alter. And with such a strong motive, there is no way that this outstanding forum will go unnoticed.
Sarah Singh, in an interview, suggests that the festival will have a different iteration every year. If this year it’s a salon-type intimate forum, next year it might be a full-blown fair. We suggest that you don’t miss this inaugural edition.
When: 3rd to 5th March, 2018
Where: Qila Mubarak, Patiala
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
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