Basar Residency, bringing together a community of creative people in Arunachal Pradesh, will conclude with a celebration themed on a confluence of traditional and contemporary arts.
Gumin Rego Kilaju (GRK), a local organisation in Basar, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh is organising the state’s first-ever artist residency programme, titled ‘Basar Residency’, bringing together photographers, writers, filmmakers, musicians and painters. Five handpicked artists are set to live and collaborate in Basar over three weeks in February, with the Basar Confluence (BasCon), a celebration to be held over two days with a presentation of a collaborative project by the artists on February 22–23 to mark the end of the residency.
“The idea of this residency is to bring focus on Basar, particularly to a niche discerning section of population. The artists are expected to work on a collaborative work and the only brief they are being given is to draw from their surroundings and to give back to Basar,” states says Jummar Basar, Organising Chairman, GRK Basar Confluence. Explaining the philosophy behind the residency, he adds, “We want to take forward the initiatives of living harmoniously with nature and the process of creating opportunities.”
The relatively unexplored and pristine villages of Basar is home to legends, folklore and a special form of rice cultivation with pineapple and orange orchards adding beauty to the surroundings. Besides the festival itself, the artists and visitors look forward to experiencing the region, with cave and tunnel explorations and the biodiversity hotspot Nguda Pokcho nearby. Hiking to the sacred forests of Jolly, trekking to various waterfalls and camping on the riverside are also some of the immersive ways to soak in the beauty of the region.
Confluence of art and culture
The BasCon celebration, the highlight of the residency, falls on the dates of an important festival for the local Galo tribes. This festival, to pay respect to Mopin, the Goddess of Harvest, will mark folk music, dance and feasting at the BasCon, in resonance with the indigenous way of celebration for the same. Phoenix Rising, the event management company that has conceptualised the Orange Festival of Adventure and Music and run Ziro Festival of Music (ZFM) in Arunachal Pradesh is also involved in the production of the residency.
Apart from traditional fishing, storytelling and theatre by National School of Drama alumni Riken Ngomle among other activities on the last day of the confluence, musicians such as Neel Adhikari, Menwhopause and Prateek Kuhad are set to enthrall visitors. Kuhad, who had bagged the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Indian Act 2016, had visited Arunachal Pradesh earlier and stated, “I have visited the state twice to play at Ziro Festival of Music before and it is beautiful,” adding, “The Basar confluence is definitely unlike any format I’ve performed in before. So this is a first!”
The artist residency is based on the belief, “confluence of ideas and efforts make our society a better place to live in and we want to trace and nurture the roots of traditions and cultures,” as Jummar Basar states. As a unique space for artists to work and promote their own art as well as the heritage of a region that is not paid as much attention to, the Basar Residency marks a growing interest in such programmes that are relatively ignored in India.