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Where the Mind is Without Fear

October 2004
Where the Mind is Without Fear

Picture a hole-in-the-wall gallery space in Soho, New York City. Throw in some aesthetically fine-tuned individuals. You have entered Kaya Collective's "Here & Now" dimension. Creative folk congregated at the Eyedrum, on September 12 for an artistic experience.

Ensconced within a warehouse setting Kaya members fashioned a relaxed lounging space. Mood lighting and subtly ethnic d�cor set the pace for a thought-provoking soiree. Visitors lit candles at the "mindfulness corner" after a moment of silent introspection.

In another area, the "activity center", people exercised their shackle-free imagination to get creative with paint, paper, ribbons and other materials. Some contemporary artwork on the walls offered interesting perspectives of the world we inhabit.

The performing space was open to everyone for candid narration. From musicians and spoken word artists to acrobats depicting twisted political jargon ? participants used varied mediums. A classically inspired mixed rendition of the Hindi song "Pag ghunghroo bandh meera natchi thi" was well received by the audience.

Spectators and performers ? South Asian and otherwise ? reflected upon the zeitgeist. Significant social issues that are often thwarted in daily life, surfaced. An informative documentary addressing the skewed news coverage of the war in Iraq stirred up emotions. Images of charred bodies and injured children goaded everyone to question man's most baneful creation ? the act of war. The evening came to an end with a piece titled "Big Brother/Little Mouse". It dealt with the violence people (especially women) experience in the political space (outside) as well as in their homes (inside). The act ended with haunting vocals in raag Yaman. "Here & Now" was an honest effort in channeling unedited artistic expression.

Alka Roy, a founding member of Kaya, spoke to Khabar about the ideology that stanchions the forum. "My personal belief is that every individual communicates ? we move, we express ? at different levels. In that context society determines certain people who get to go up on stage and communicate certain things in a specific manner. At Kaya we are questioning that notion and saying let us add more intelligence, more participation. We don't come up with a message. We simply explore topics in an organic way."

Set up earlier this year, Kaya Collective proffers an unpretentious platform for artistic communication. Writers, thinkers, philosophers, painters, musicians, dancers, actors, organizers ? people come together to discover a common vocabulary. Those of you who have a limited appetite for Zee TV, step into a Zen zone. For more information, visit www. kayacollective.org.

-Reetika Nijhawan

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