Dharti – an interdisciplinary arts residency and open studio exhibition presented by Serendipity Arts Trust

Serendipity Arts Trust​, which presented India with its premier interdisciplinary arts festival, Serendipity Arts Festival 2016 is a Munjal initiative for the promotion of creativity and imagination in arts and culture. This year, the Trust initiated Dharti​, a holistic and thematic arts residency based equally on theory and practice. The Trust’s first arts residency, Dharti ​was designed to provide a group of young artists with a platform, resources and a space to hone and develop their artistic practice.

Today, artists struggle both artistically and structurally. Within this context Dharti aims to equip artists with tools allowing for freedom between both practice and sustainability. For 2017, taking inspiration from the idea of ‘The Self in Self-Sufficiency’​, Dharti provides a platform for creative sustainable development where the art, artist and local community co-exist and foster connections across a wide spectrum of people and networks. Dharti ​facilitates open and unconstrained artistic work inspired by, and in response to, Delhi’s urban community. The artists in residence are encouraged to engage in a dialogue with their locality, and incorporate their experiences towards both process and outcome.

This year’s artists include Biplab Sarkar​, Deepak Agasthya​, Kumaresan Selvaraj​, Priyanka Das​, Suryakanta Swain and Utsa Hazarika​, who come from a variety of regions across the country including West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. The works of each artists will be showcased at an open studio exhibition later this month in conjunction with Serendipity Arts Trust (New Delhi), followed by a showcase the 2017 edition of Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa in December.

Residency Structure

Dharti arts residency offered accommodation and studio space in New Delhi for the period of three months, and provided support and financial assistance to the artists for the development of new works and cover the cost of production.

During the course, informal events were arranged comprising artist talks, interaction with practitioners, workshops, studio visits, and visits to museums and galleries. Community interactions were also tailored for the residents, and designed for artists to gain a greater awareness of their own practice, provide exposure to other mediums, as well as provide wherewithal to make connections and build networks required for their art. A series of short sessions focusing on finances, sustainability and development of soft skills were also offered to provide support for artists to better understand the nuances of creating a holistic artistic practice.

Dharti is both a process as well as an outcome driven residency. To consolidate the programme, artists were briefed to create works funded by the Trust, culminating in an open studio exhibition in the Trust’s gallery space and later at the Serendipity Arts Festival 2017 in Goa.

Selection Process

For the process of selection, artists from all over the country responded to an open call for submissions, keeping in mind the theme, ‘The Self in Self-Sufficiency’. A a 500-word brief describing what they intended to accomplish during the residency was required, along with a portfolio of relevant works and résumé.

The Trust was open to artists working in any medium, and paid particular interest in those exploring new ways of developing their practice. The selection process was made according to the quality of artworks and suitability for development.

The following criteria were followed when selecting the participants:

  • The quality of the applicant’s work
  • The extent to which the applicant’s 500-word brief reflected their intention during the residency.
  • The potential for the award to have a significant impact on the applicant’s creative development.

After a thorough run through of all artists entries, an esteemed panel of well-established industry practitioners including Hanif Kureshi​, Manisha Parekh​, Rahaab Allana​, Rasika Kajaria ​and Sabih Mohd Ahmed​ selected a total of 6 artists.

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