Event Calendar

Merck Tagore Award 2014

23 April 2014, 6:30 pm
Goethe-Institut Auditorium

An award to promote cultural exchange between India and Germany

Sponsored by Merck Limited, India
Granted by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, India
Represented by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata

The purpose of the Merck-Tagore Award is to help honour the life and work of Rabindranath Tagore and to continue that effort. During his visits to Germany, the Indian Nobel Laureate represented India as an ambassador and appealed for better understanding of India and its culture.

The Merck-Tagore Award was granted for the first time during the events marking the Tagore Year of the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata in March 2012. Thereafter, it was decided that it will be granted every two years on or near Tagore’s birthday, to a person who has made a special contribution to cultural exchange between Germany and India. The selection of the prize-winner will be made by a jury consisting of members representing the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, India, the German Federal Foreign Office and Merck Limited India.

The award ceremony will also include a performance aNki buNki kata by Preethi Athreya from Chennai. (Duration: 45 minutes)

‘aNki buNki kata’ is what we can call ‘doodle-making’. A doodle is an unfocused or unconscious drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes. According to studies in cognitive science, doodling can aid a person's memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain's processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between thinking too much or thinking too little and helps focus on the current situation.

A previously unknown manuscript containing some of Tagore's well-known poems and songs, and embellished with his trademark doodles and revisions recently came up for sale in New York. The handwritten notebook had 12 poems and lyrics for 12 songs. Tagore presented the 152-page notebook to a family friend in the mid-1930s.

It has been said that Rabindranath Tagore’s artistic adventure began with doodles that turned crossed-out words and lines in his manuscripts into images that assumed expressive and sometimes grotesque forms. They were unplanned and shaped by accidents and intuitive decisions but often seem to carry memories of the familiar and the unknown. The inhabitation of one in the other led him to forms that were as expressive as they were inventive.

My engagement with Tagore begins with these doodle-manuscripts as points of departure. Three of these doodle images created on the background of original manuscripts have been chosen. The poems in question are Mon je bhole chini chini, Bidhir bandon katbe tumi and Vaitarani. While Mon je bhole chini chini talks of recognising the familiar in the foreign, the reality in the dream and the desire in the resistance, Bidhir bandon, written in the context of the partition of hindus and muslims in Bengal, stirs up the spirit of rebellion and solidarity. Vaitarani, the river between earth and hell, describes how every experience the poet had in his life, finally floated away with her waves, becoming brighter while touched by her waters.

Each of these poems is overlaid with a doodle created by the author by connecting up the crossed-out words. Each doodle has a specific line and curve, sometimes recognizable as animal or tree and sometimes completely abstract. The doodles have no apparent connection with the text. While the text serves as a spring-board for playing with gestures as narrative symbols, the line of the doodle becomes the map for abstract movement.

What is suggested is that any notion of meaning cannot be contained or explained by either of these phenomena. Rather, the place between the active search for meaning and the sensorial experience of the dance is where we may find ourselves closest to a discovery, perhaps. Where a deliberate explanation is countered by a random intuition. Like a doodle - aNki buNki kata - hovering between thinking too much and too little!

Cast & Credits:

Concept & Choreography: Preethi Athreya
Dramaturgical support: Pravin Kannanur
Performance: Preethi Athreya, Murielle Lapinsonniere.
Music: Tobias Sturmer, Preeti Mahesh, Jatin Vidyarthi
Narration: Dr.J.P.Biswas, Mrs.Putul Ghosh
Lighting: M.Natesh

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