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A small Himachal village that’s taking art to nature

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Gunehar-village

Bir, June 16: Art is not a commodity but an experience, say connoisseurs, and this experience can take an entirely new form when it interacts with its surroundings — walls, lights, music, furniture and other artwork around it — or even moves beyond it.

What if the whole idea of art from its creation to exhibition is transformed? What if the creation of an artist is juxtaposed with the supreme creation — mother nature itself? What if the surrounding walls are replaced by trees and shrubs, artificial lights by the natural play of sunlight and shadows, and recorded music by the sounds of crickets, birds and the wind?

One such experience was showcased in Gunehar, a small village in Himachal Pradesh, which falls between Bir and Billing, famous as the paragliding zone of India.

Every three years, a unique art residency programme called “ShopArt ArtShop” is organised in Gunehar by German-Indian art curator Frank Schlichtmann, where artists break free from rules and restrictions of art galleries and curators, to create art in the foothills of Himalayas while interacting with nature as well as the villagers.

However, Schlichtmann took it a notch higher this June with an exhibition titled “In the Woods” where various artists’ works were displayed in the natural setting of a forest above Gunehar.

The idea was to make art more accessible by taking it out of the restricted and elitist space, he said.

“First, it’s a different way of doing an art exhibition because these usually take place in galleries and only for city people, and that too, for a select few.

“We want to achieve something first for the artist. So here, the artists have a chance to work outside all the restraints put by the galleries and the curators,” Schlichtmann told IANS.

Schlichtmann, who not only curated the exhibition which concluded on June 11 but also displayed a few of his own artworks, said that in India, the art scene starts and ends with painting and sculpture. “That’s all that they consider as art anyway.”

He added that the aim of the exhibition as well as the triennial art residency project is also to bring forward the emerging artists of various art forms.

“The emerging artists, who are actually the interesting ones and are taking the art scene forward, have to fight a lot to even get a spot. For instance, a famous curator whom I know actually charges the artists to curate,” Schlichtmann said.

The exhibition displayed terracotta sculptures of Mudita Bhandari, photographs by Ratika Singh, paintings by Neha Lavingia, as well as a soundscape by Nikhil Narendra, an e-book project by Rohini Kejriwal and a live installation by Gauri Sharma.

Bhandari, who displayed works which seamlessly blended with the forest surroundings, says that it was a completely different experience to first work for “ShopArt ArtShop” and then for “In the Woods”.

“It’s very regular to have an exhibition in a city where you have a gallery, where you have a setup and where you know everything. There you are in your comfort zone.”

“But it is very different when you don’t have a setup at all. I had nothing, not even a table to work on and was working on flat cement space when I came for ShopArt ArtShop,” Bhandari told IANS.

“All our traditional potters are working under these circumstances. We, as city people, have never done it and there is still something that divides their way of doing things and our way of doing things,” she said.

Bhandari, an art graduate from Shantiniketan, prefers terracotta because it’s “very porous and very alive” and it changes with every season.

“When you place terracotta works outdoors, you see some fungus coming in — the green thing. When the rains are gone and the sun is out, the green dries up and it’s all brown,” she said.

“So it’s very evolving and is living in that particular space which is why I relate to terracotta much more.”

About exhibiting her works outside in the forest, Bhandari says it created a link between her process of creating the artwork and the way it is displayed for the audience.

“When I am working, there are so many light elements that come in and go as the sun goes from one direction to another. So I watch the work play with those lights and shadows.”

“It was a fantastic thing to actually bring the work out in the open. This was my way of sharing that play of lights and shadows in real time and with people, because each light or shadow would have its own character and it creates a mood of its own,” she said.

By Vishav

IANS

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Court extends Vadra’s interim bail in money laundering case

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Robert Vadra

New Delhi, Feb 16 (IANS) A Delhi court on Saturday extended the interim bail till March 2 of Robert Vadra, Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law, who came to the court for the first time in connection with a money laundering case being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Special Judge Arvind Kumar also extended the interim protection from arrest to Vadra’s close aide Manoj Arora till March 2.

The hearing was in relation to Vadra’s anticipatory bail plea.

The ED, however, told the court that Vadra is not cooperating in the investigation.

Defending him, Vadra’s counsel K.T.S. Tulsi said that he has appeared in the ED office thrice and grilled for a total of 23 hours and 25 minutes.

Special Public Prosecutor D.P. Singh argued that Vadra was taking to social media and claiming that he was a victim by posting that he was being “harrased”.

Singh said that accused should not use social media to claim that he is being victimised.

He said that Vadra’s visit to the court had attracted a lot of media attention which seemed like people had turned up for a “baraat” or a wedding party.

The case relates to ownership of 1.9 million pounds worth undisclosed assets abroad, allegedly belonging to Vadra, husband of Priyanka Gandhi, the new General Secretary of the Congress for Uttar Pradesh East.

The ED had lodged a money laundering case against Arora after his role surfaced during a probe by the Income Tax Department into another case under the new Black Money Act and tax law against absconding arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.

The London property was allegedly bought by Bhandari and sold in 2010 for the same amount despite incurring additional expenses on its renovation.

On December 7, as part of the investigation, the ED conducted searches at a number of premises in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru.

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Cloudy, foggy Saturday morning in Delhi

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delhi fog
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New Delhi, Feb 16: Delhiites on Saturday witnessed a cloudy and foggy morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 13 degrees Celsius, two notch above the season’s average.

“The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 19 degrees Celsius. The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 93 per cent while visibility was at 600 metres.

The Indian Railways said as many as 13 Delhi-bound trains were delayed due to fog and low visibility in several parts of northern India.

The overall air quality of the city remained in the ‘poor’ category with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching 225 as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting.

On Friday, the maximum temperature settled two notches below the average at 22 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperature was recorded at 11.8 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.

WeForNews

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Modi flags off Vande Bharat Express

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Train 18

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off the indigenous Train 18, renamed Vande Bharat Express, from the New Delhi railway station to his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi in the backdrop of the terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 45 troopers.

A sombre Modi told a gathering at the station that he was “grateful to designers and engineers behind Vande Bharat Express” which set off at 11.20 a.m.

The train will clock 160 km per hour — the fastest on the Indian rail network.

The Prime Minister said with “our sincerity and hard work in the last four and half years, we have tried to improve the railways”.

Earlier, Modi inspected the coaches and the engine cabin of the Vande Bharat Express along with senior railway officials.

The flagging off was delayed by over 80 minutes as Modi presided over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security to discuss the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi and members of the Railway Board were on board the train on its inaugural journey.

Bookings on the Vande Bharat Express opened on Friday. All the seats of were booked within four hours.

The train, which will start replacing Shatabdi Express trains, will run between Delhi and Varanasi.

The train has been manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai.

The gleaming blue-nosed train comes fitted with world class amenities on board like high-speed on-board WiFi, GPS-based passenger information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points and a climate control system that automatically adjusts the temperature.

The 16-coach train will have two executive compartments with 52 seats each and trailer coaches with 78 seats each.

The executive class will have rotating seats to match the direction of the train.

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