February 5, 2022: Evolution: that should have been the theme of the Kala Ghoda Art Festival 2014. Because that is what was seen strongest at this year’s edition of the annual festival, where art connoisseurs and Mumbai’s fee-event happy crowd came as usual in multitudes. Being held from February 1-9, 2014, the theme instead for this year is “Momentum,” and while the festival seems to be losing that charm it once held, there are certain factors that still emphasize every Mumbaikar’s urge to be there.
The exhibits at the festival were perhaps the most abstract ever, with almost every piece of art outdoing the other in terms of theme, arrangement and the general idea for its creation. Abstraction perhaps to the point that it was difficult to connect with the theme of the festival or the exhibit itself, but artist impressions being subjective, there’s little to complain about there. How most pieces connected to the theme of “Momentum” is unexplained, and that was a sentiment that many in the crowd seemed to be wondering about. An audience’s sentience to art is perhaps what keeps any art festival or art itself alive; else it just becomes a futile event attended for the sake of attending. Sadly, year after year, the KGAF seems to be following in that direction.
One of the obvious elements missing from this edition of the festival, which has been on for the 16th year now, was the live performing arts at the main venue for the festival, Rampart Row, entirely. At least until last year, there was some little bit of a music, a dance, a puppet show, a brilliant tight-rope walk act and what not. In the absence of these, what the festival is about 40 art installations and 50 stalls to buy stuff from. Sure the music, theatre, and literature aspects of the festival have been dispersed all over the place from where the festival first began, so to say that knowing what’s happening where is not an understatement.
On a final note, while the people coming to the festival may have increased in numbers, even from last year, what is saddening to see is a clear insensibility of what art is. That becomes manifest when you think of people placing their kids on top of a structure demarcated with “Do not cross the line” messages, and the more obvious “Do Not Touch” message. Add to that the fact that one of the glass exhibits actually suffered damage due to overcrowding and obvious carelessness, and you know that the city has quite a fair bit to understand about caring for art, let alone appreciating it.
Pictures - Dhananjay Mane