We will continue to promote international exhibitions, offering opportunities to artists from countries that are under represented in the art world

                                                                 - Grazia Peduzzi

Founded in 2012, Emergent Art Space is a non-profit organisation and online network.that supports young artists from around the world. Emergent Art Space promotes cross-cultural exchange and geographic diversity in the arts. It encourages diversity, values traditions, welcomes the new and experimental. In February 2016 Emergent Art Space, in collaboration with Kolkata artist Samindranath Majumdar, held an international young artists exhibition at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre, Indian Center for Cultural Relations. Grazia Peduzzi, Executive Director at  Emergent Art Space shares her thoughts.

Your organization states that its mission is to contribute to the conversation about the evolving role of art in the contemporary global society. What can you tell me about how the role of art is evolving in today's global society? 

This is a broad and important question, and I can’t pretend to have the answer. We are all witnesses to the changes that are taking place in the contemporary world. We know that, historically, art has played different roles at different times and places. The relationship between art and society has always been dynamic, has changed with changing political, social, and cultural realities. What is new about the contemporary world is that it is interconnected in unprecedented ways. The interconnectedness does not regard only the circulation of material goods and products, but also the circulation of people and ideas, of cultural and artistic products, with enormous potential for growing and expanding exchange and connections.

We live in a globalized, connected world, and the circulation of works of art across borders and cultures, now made possible by technology, elicits exchange, communication and understanding in ways not accessible to previous generations… I do believe that art,moving between different traditions and backgrounds, between the local and the global, and enjoying the enormous freedom of expression and experimentation, can play a huge role in shaping the contemporary global culture. Giving expression to a large variety of human experiences, rooted in different cultural traditions, can be a determining factor in avoiding the pitfall of the homogenization of culture, what the critics of globalization pessimistically see as the dystopian future of our globalized society.

Do you believe that Emergent Art Space offers something unique to that conversation? If so, what is that?

We are offering a platform for young artists, and we hope to represent a large variety of artistic experiences, and to encourage exchange and dialogue across geographical and cultural differences.There are many other platforms, galleries and art institutions which host international artists. What is unique about Emergent Art Space, however, is the idea of addressing a specific demographic group, artists under 30 years of age, often still in school, and doing so internationally. The two qualifiers, ‘young’ and ‘international’ are what characterizes Emergent Art Space as an art organization.

Why does The Emergent Art Space focus primarily on the art of youth and emerging artists? What is the difference between these two categories?

I actually use these two categories interchangeably. In Emergent Art Space, young artists are emerging artists, they all have that potential. We focus on this group because we believe that the younger generation is very well situated to take advantage of what the new technologies and the new forms of exchange and communications are making possible. Young artists can also comfortably move across different and distant artistic traditions, cultural backgrounds, high and low cultural expressions and artifacts. This is strongly apparent in music, for example, but it is happening in the visual arts as well.

How do you choose the participants in your shows and programs? What kind of artists and youth are you hoping to engage? How would you define the perfect candidate for your program? Can you recall any particular young artists or artist groups that you found particularly inspiring and explain why?

Emergent Art Space is very open and inclusive. Artists who upload their works on our website, if they meet the requirements, are easily approved. We are happy to engage artists who are eager to communicate with the larger, global community, but also artists who are engaged with their local communities. In general, we are interested in artists who share our belief in the power of art as a vehicle of communication. Particularly inspiring are young artists who have launched their own initiatives through Emergent Art Space, like EinatMoglad, from Israel, who has promoted collaborative projects among artists from different countries, working together through the internet, or artists who are becoming curators and organizers in their own countries and communities, like GadiRamadhani in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, Alejandro Morales in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, or Ramon Blanco in Spain.

It was also very interesting to realize that we attracted young artists with dual nationalities, dual identities: young artists from Mexico or Puerto Rico, now living in the U.S., or from China, South Korea, Taiwan, Iran, studying in the U.S. It should not have been a surprise, given the themes of our exhibitions: ‘Crossing Borders’, ‘Translations’… Our message of intercultural dialogue resonate very strongly for them.  I also belong to this group of people carrying dual nationalities, or hybrid identities, having grown up in Italy and moved to the U.S. when I was an adult. 

Do you believe that all cultures can easily experience and interpret the art of other cultures? What does your organization do to facilitate understanding between cultures that have radically different traditions? Can you give an example of this?

I do not think that understanding the art of other cultures is easy at all. All works of art are deeply rooted both in the experience of the individual artist and in that artist’s historical and cultural context. References, connotations, symbolic meanings, they can be completely lost to the viewer who has not shared those same experiences, who does not share the same cultural context. Misinterpretations and mistranslations are always going to occur. And yet,I believe that we have all had the experience of being moved by works of art that did not belong to our tradition or culture, whose meanings or references escaped us. The aesthetic understanding is different from the intellectual understanding. Both can be communicated and translated, albeit in different ways. The constant tension between what is translatable and what is not, between what can be communicated and what can only be intuitively apprehended is part of every artist’s experience.

Emergent Art Space’s contribution is in offering a platform that gives exposure to geographical and cultural diversity, to the heterogeneity of contemporary artistic expressions. There is enormous talent and richness in young artists around the world, and it needs to be shown and disseminated. The international exhibitions we have organized have seen young artists from different cultures and backgrounds engage on a common theme. They have created conditions of genuine exchange and insight into experiences different from one’s own.The EASwebsite, which offers the artists the chance to write about their works and their projects, their ideas, experiences and points of view, is also a powerful vehicle of communication.

How did you come to be involved with this organization? To date what has been the most satisfying and or exciting program or event that you have experienced through this organization? 

I founded Emergent Art Space in San Francisco in 2011, with the help and support of several friends and family members. The inspiration came form the years I taught philosophy of art at a  Liberal Arts college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Being in close contact with art students, discussing art with them on a daily basis, seeing their passions and their talents is what inspired me to start an organization devoted to students and young artists.

The organization has grown organically, through the young artists who have become involved. The first exhibition we held in 2013, in San Francisco, was around the theme ‘Crossing Borders’. Among the participants was an artist from Tijuana, Mexico, who was then studying in California. Tijuana is a large city right across the border from California to Mexico, and it suffers all the problems of a location right at the border between two countries at different levels of development. It seemed so appropriate to literally ‘cross the border’ with this exhibition and involving schools and young artists there. We worked for months to make it happen, and it actually turned into a wonderful collaboration between artists from both sides of that border.

Another wonderful event was of course the exhibition we had in Kolkata last February. The challenge in this case was even greater, because India is not as close to California as Mexico is… It took an enormous amount of trust, from both sides, to work together at such a distance, and a lot of work and dedication from the organizer and curator in Kolkata, artist SamindranathMajumdar. The international exhibition at the Tagore Centre exceeded all expectations. It displayed, side by side, impressive works by both international and Kolkata young artists; it was visited and appreciated by a large audience, including art critics, historians, and renown artists. For me, however, the best part was the enthusiasm and participation of all the young artists who worked together to make it happen, and to make it so successful.

What are some future ideas, hopes, dreams that you envision for Emergent Art Space?

Emergent Art Space is a young organization with big dreams, but we want to continue to remain flexible and open, to grow organically, refraining from the top down planning, through the artists who are interested in our mission. We are proud to host the works of so many great artists on our website, and we would like to expand its role in creating connections and dialogue. We will continue to promote international exhibitions, offering opportunities to artists from countries that are under represented in the art world,and to support initiatives that contribute to cross cultural dialogue, wherever they are in the world. 


"The vision is to balance a world full of negativity by the art"

AWW! A wonderful World! A record label of live art, introspective art. Many artists. Psychedelic art, music, video, jam band, hippie shore. Recently   Laetitia and Paul W Brook  performed at the MOMENTUM - Experimental Arts Festival – Kolkata. MOMENTUM is curated and produced by Range, The Arshinagar Project& Little i, in association with Artvideo. Koeln and in partnership with Makers Loft - Kolkata Maker space.

Tell us about Aww! (A wonderful world!) formation?

AWW! A Wonderful World is a small collective or artist based in Paris, but traveling in the world to encounter another culture and artists. Till now we have been mainly traveling in India. For many reasons, we feel close to Indian culture. 

What was the vision?

The vision is to balance a world full of negativity by the art. In Europe since the beginning of the industrialization, world has been more and more materialistic and we feel there’s a lack of spirituality, everything is so superficial! A Wonderful World wants to re-enchant the world around us via an artistic expression. 

Can you take us through your artistic process?

Our artistic process is to privilege the improvisation and to capture the creative work in process…Our work is based on spontaneity, and we try to capture the magic of the present moment.

What was the most challenging part of your project so far?

To find a way of distribution, to build an audience for a new expression of art is the most challenging part of the project… Nowadays communication work takes a lot of time and is quite conflicting with the artistic process.

How have your travels to India influenced your work?

Energy in India is very special and when we work here, we feel uplifted by this energy. To work with Indian classical musicians is also really inspiring as the tradition shared by them is a treasure of humanity rooted in ancient time where art was still an expression linked to the soul exploration.
How has the psychedelic art changed over the years and what characterize it?

The psychedelic art since the 60’s is linked with the consumption of hallucinogens, substances which alter states of consciousness. During the years, there has been an evolution in the music style (today psytranse and rock jam band mostly). Psychedelic visual arts were a counterpart to the psychedelic rock music and is also symbols, colors, shapes used are still quite stereotyped today. India traditional art as many cultures in the world (shamanism) is also linked to psychedelism and to hallucinogens consumption.

What do you believe the future of computer based visual art is?

As computer and video is becoming the most important media of the 21st century, artistic expression follows this tendency.  It's why computer based visual art will be more and more developed in the future and they are plenty of experience to do with it.

If you could give one piece of advice to the independent artists community, what would it be?

The concept of "independent artist," comes from an economical theory who divides mainstream culture and independent artists. These two categories are of no help today. An artist is a creator, an explorer, so he has to be confident in his art, without forgetting  to work the technique, and has to find his own path of expression. But who are we to give advice to anybody about that ?

"Music is fun...tastic!"

Born in Turin, Italy, Mauro Goia began playing the piano at the age of 4. His great passion for the music took him to approach with different instruments, from church organ to guitar, from keyboard and piano to drum. He studied at the Conservatorium of Music in Turin getting a degree in Choral Music and Choir Conductor. He worked in many studios composing and arranging movie soundtracks. At present he’s working as Product Manager and International Demonstrator for Roland Corporation. As an entertainer, Mauro has developed his own special breed of humor, which has made crowds of people return to see him time and again. As Roland guest and Concert Musician, Mauro has performed in The U.S.A., Great Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Holland, Japan, Tunisia, Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Australia and Brazil. With his wife Mega Sihombing, an Indonesian singer and traditional dancer, he has formed MegaMauro. Recently a keyboard clinic cum demonstration by Mauro Goia was organised by Roland here in Kolkata. Mauro showed the power of Expandable arranger E-A7 and Expandable synthesizer XPS-30.

A keyboard clinic cum demonstration
by Mauro Goia was organised by Roland in Kolkata
Did you come from a musical family?

Yes, all people in my family are so fond of music. My father and my mother met each other in a spiritual choir, my father could also play mandolin and harmonica, he also composed many songs. My brother is a good guitar player and my sister sings as well. I have to say that many times it was my father to help me in keeping on and following my music studies, I owe my passion for music to him.

At the age of 4 I remember I was sick in the bed, I could not wake up for 15 days... so my parents, to cheer me up, gave me a small electronic organ and I started playing on it... soon I understood my biggest dream was to become an artist... since that time I did all my efforts to make my dream come true... today, finally, I feel I'm an artist in my heart, in my life, in my job...

What kind of music were you exposed to around the house at an early age?

Actually,  in my childhood there was always music in my home, mainly classical music, my parents loved it so much (I mean Mozart, Beethoven...), but also world music. I remember a particular Hawaiian record (my father's favorite one), many times friends visited our family and my father usually let them listen to that music in the night... I was already in the bed,  but I could hear from my bedroom to the beautiful music, a perfect mix of sweet melody with exotic rhythms. Ah... so inspiring...

What drew you to The keyboard?
A keyboard clinic cum demonstration
by Mauro Goia was organised by Roland in Kolkata
Actually, I am a pianist, I studied piano since I was 5, keyboard came later. I have to thank a friend (actually the father of one of my piano students) who introduced me to Roland more than 10 years ago after seeing my performance on piano. At that time Roland gave me the opportunity to perform during an international dealer meeting and borrowed me three keyboards,  asking me to choose one to be introduced and played during the meeting. I only had 2 days to prepare it, but I was so excited, so I work 2 full days and got ready with the three keyboards, not only one! After my performance they were so impressed to offer me to become one of their international artists. So I started exploring the world of keyboards, actually you can be more creative compared to playing just piano... but I have to thank my classical piano studies, from piano to keyboard the step up  was so easy!

How did MegaMauro come about?

I met Mega (my wife) 10 years ago in Surabaya (Indonesia) during a music tour. I was looking for a local singer to perform with. We started sharing dreams and thoughts about music, life, love... we fell in love and got married 4 years ago. We decided to put together our experiences and passions for music (actually she is a very good singer, well known in Indonesia), our motto is "Music is fun...tastic!" It means first music has to make people happy, everybody loves music so the first approach has to be the happiness to play and to listen to the music. Then, of course, music touches our souls, our deepest part of our hearts, so it becomes fantastic, wonderful, because it is able to speak to the heart of people, it is able to communicate feelings and passions.

What has been the most defining moment for MegaMauro so far?

Well, more than one year ago we attended a national TV show in Indonesia (Rising Star), we were able to arrive in the final steps, so we were exposed more than two months in one of the biggest national TV in Indonesia. We are so happy to realize, even today, people recognize us, they loved our performances, we were trying to communicate our passion and they got it.
Now we are performing regularly in many different live shows, we love so much meeting our fans, it always gives  us a new power to reach our biggest dream: help people with music, make them happy, let them experience the most beautiful art!

What makes a great live show?

Well, any show has to be prepared with details. Being artists means working on that every single day. We are never arrived, every day we have to keep moving and improving... For me it means every day practice for my fingers (I mean technique exercises) and also to listen to the new songs coming out of the best singers, to get new ideas, new sonorities...
Then I think a show must be original and dynamic, nowadays people are used to have many inputs every second, so the show has to be various and full of entertainment. At the end of the performance the audience should think 'WOW!". These are the things I keep in mind when preparing a new show.

A venue that  you dream of performing at?

Well, everybody can dream about the biggest theaters in the world (Metropolitan, Olympia...) but I also like the idea to perform in the nature, I mean in the open air with The natural landscape background.

How important is music education in schools and beyond?

Of course music is not only a school subject, it is an art that can really improve our capabilities and, first of all, offer us incredible experiences. Music is a language, actually the most spoken languages in the world, everybody can understand it, so we need to be able to "speak music", as another way to be yourself. Recently I prepared and offered many music seminars and workshops to music teachers, students and parents, describing how the music speaks to us everyday with the unique language of music.

You’ve worked as marketing director with several international audio companies. What do you think are the main ingredients that are important to build one’s career as a musician and getting one’s name out there?

Well, I have some words I like to put as my guideline:

  • PASSION: first of all we have to love what we do, we have to use all our energy (from body, soul and heart) when we perform, only in this way we are able to communicate completely our feelings, our passions.
  • PROFESSIONALITY: music has to be studied, of course I thank God for the great talent He gave me, but also the daily exercises, the constant studies are a crucial part to become and mainly to keep on being an artist. Actually, I studied 10 years in Milan and Turin Conservatory of Music to get a degree in Piano, Harmony and Conducting.
  • CREATIVITY: I try always to be original, different, sometimes daring to do things that can be considered funny or at least strange, but this is the power of music, it allows us to be completely yourself!

Do you have any advice for aspiring keyboard players in regards to how to improve their playing skills?

Well, first of all consider the keyboard as your partner to express yourself, the keyboard is the bridge allowing you to communicate with the world.
Second, respect it, I mean you should study all the keyboard features and functions to be able to use them completely.

Third, try to create something new with your keyboard, maybe new sounds, new music styles... the more you personalize your performances the more people see you as an artist.


"Theatre resembles living a life, where actors live and present their struggles"

Ahmad Samim Farahmand
Ahmad Samim Farahmand is a lecturer at Kabul University of Afghanistan. Mr. Farahmand is also the coordinator for Afghan Student's Theatre festival that takes place annually in Afghanistan. In a very young age Samim started writing and till now he has written more than twenty Short stories, essays and poems. Mr Farahmand's essays includes research about Buddhism in Afghanistan and the history of Afghanistan theatre from beginning till now. His last works was an essay related to the importance of theatre in Afghanistan and why should we keep this art alive. Currently Samim resides in Kabul and is working on his upcoming essay and practices on how an actor can use the stage properly. For the first time, students from the University of Kabul, Afghanistan put up their interpretation and rendition of one of Tagore's most famous short stories – Kabuliwala directed by Ahmad Samim Farahmand  at the ICCR, kolkata organised by Happenings, Kolkata.

What does theatre mean to you?  

It is hard to express theatre easily, however, I believe theatre is life, theatre means giving life to an untold story, theatre means expressing a story in its most simple and effective form to your viewer/listener. In other words, theatre resembles living a life, where actors live and present their struggles, according to the view of their director and needs of the society. Today theatre has presented itself as a guide to societies and has presented the problems of the society in a logical way to its people, and has shown ways on how to overcome people’s problems. This is what theatre actually is. 

What is your opinion on the current state of theater in the Afghanistan?

Theatre has a history that goes back thousands of years in Afghanistan, this art form has been active since the great Alexandra’s time. Theatre has been mostly used to please the powerful and politicians, sometimes theatre presents what people are interested to see which has not been very effective.

Theatre has spent years in destruction through various regimes in Afghanistan, specifically Taliban’s regime. Later, after 2001 when the interim government of Hamid Karzai was announced, theatrical pieces started to rise, but it didn’t have its old fame of 40 years ago. At times theatrical arts were tortured by the religious communities, but it still survived through the academic theatrical personalities of Afghanistan and was brought to the attention of the world. Here we have to thank the Theatre Department of Faculty of Fine Arts, which worked hard to keep this art form alive and active by creative theatre festivals and groups. Today we have groups comprising boys and girls in different provinces of Afghanistan. Some of those groups participate in national and international festivals as well. 

What kind of issues and concerns are being reflected in the theatres of Afghanistan?

Today theatre in Afghanistan is mostly educational and informational since the theatre has spent years in the dark and required time to introduce itself and its activities back to the people, and luckily it is doing so. Most of the theatrical plays performed in Afghanistan and created for a specific cause, important causes to be exact. Plays are created to reflect the issues of our current society, for example:
Plays related to violence against women, drug abuse and its dangers, terrorism, and other such plays that could tell stories of our current society, people accept them too. 

On the other hand, students of the university who are studying this art form academically, choose foreign plays that have subjects related to our society and work on them. These plays are mostly selected from festivals outside the country, students have achieved honors for doing so. 

Which was the most challenging part of directing Kabuliwala?

It is obvious that directing is a difficult task, in Afghanistan it has more difficulties since we have less space to rehearse, actors work outside the theatre (in Afghanistan actors of cinema and theatre have to work other jobs since there is no payments in theatre for them). The enemy that has never enjoyed the success of arts and culture in Afghanistan, and other problems that are part of our daily life, such as the religious community that always tries to stop artistic activities. However, with all the difficulties we were still able to complete Kabuliwala. 

I still remembered that we kept all our schedules and rehearsal secret from everyone, except the actors, and we didn’t post any pictures of videos on social media, since we were afraid of people who didn’t like what we did. Two years ago an explosion took place during a theatrical performance that closed the doors of an auditorium on the viewers of theatre. Our friends didn’t know about the cast and crew members of the play, till we performed in India. Then they recognized the cast members. 

What did you look for in an actor when you made the casting for the play?

After selection of a certain play, the task of a director is to find actors for the characters in the play. Every year the Theatre Department of Kabul University, holds a Students’ Theatre Festival,  which is a great platform for students to present their works. I have spent two years working as the coordinator for the festival where I got the chance to observe student talent. These festivals helped me choose the most fitting actors for the characters of Kabuliwala. 

I faced some difficulties to find actors who could fit Indian characters, but the festival helped me observe actors and find the most suitable ones. Even actors didn’t know that they are chosen for certain roles for a reason, later I told them why I chose them for the roles they were given. I gave them my reasons, most of which were: “I chose you for this character because I saw you in this performance and thought you fit the role.”  I am pleased that the actors fulfilled their tasks appropriately. 

Rabindranath Tagore's famous short story "Kabuliwala" has contributed more to brand Afghanistan, which it could not do with billions of dollars, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said while fondly remembering the late Nobel laureate. What are your views?

Yes, as President Ghani expressed, that billions of dollars couldn’t bring the change that Kabuliwala brought. I also believe that Kabuliwala is not a short story, it is a connection between two cultures, a friendly link and a kind relation between the people of two nations.

If we go into depth of Tagor’s story we would understand that Rabindranath Tagore has written a masterpiece, which wove the hearts of our nations. Even today we can find such stories in India, specifically in Kolkata. 

Two hundred years ago, Afghans traveled to India to do business and it gave the idea of Kabuliwala to Tagore, today the bond is so strong between these two nations that others feel jealous of it. 
If we had spent thousands of dollars, we wouldn’t have been able to buy such a bond that is created in Kabuliwala. The bond of love and kindness between a refugee seeking business and a child, the love of a child for a man that he hasn’t even knows. The kindness of a father to a man who was in need, how the father spent the last of his fortune to bring happiness to a man not known to him. This shows that love cannot be purchased with wealth; it is a feeling of acceptance that has remained between these two nations. 

In fact Kabuliwala represents a common culture, history, and social life of the people of these two nations (India and Afghanistan). I believe that Tagore is the writer of the play that tells the story of what he has witnessed. 

Kabuliwala is an example of acceptance between these two nations; we performed this play to recreate the love that is slowly fading between these two nations. Through Kabuliwala we created love between these two nations, we reminded our people in Afghanistan, Kolkata, and India of the love we have and we will carry in our hearts to each other. It was one of our main goals by creating Kabuliwala. 

What is your favorite aspect about Tagore’s Kabuliwala?

At first the short story and later on the Dramatized version of Kabuliwala, by my best friend Haroon Noori is what I love the most about Kabuliwala. The love and admiration I had for this play was why I accepted to direct this play.  I can’t compare different aspects of the play and say which is my favorite; I admired and love every aspect of the writing and the characters in this play.  I will never forget that one of my dreams comes true, to go to Tagore’s birth place and perform his own play there. I can’t believe that I went there (ShantinKetin) and performed Kabuliwala. I am thankful to God for making my dream come true. 

I hope that I could continue to work with the people of Tagore’s land and continue to have contacts with them, learn from their great experiences, and feel proud. 

A memorable moment during this trip that you would like to share?

From my trip with Kabuliwala’s team to the land of knowledge, culture, and arts, and a land that is loved by every easterner for its history, I have enjoyed every moment of it and have brought great memories back with me.  At first I would like to thank all the people of India, specifically people in Kolkata who showed me love and hospitality, from the organizers of the festival that helped us greatly (Viji Iyengar, Prokash Bhattacharya, Priyanka Ghose, Kaustav Ghosh)They helped us perform our theatrical piece in their country and supported us immensely. 

Every member of the team has memories of their first trip, but here I want to share one of my memories that I will never forget: I was walking inside Visva-Bharati University when one of our Bengali friends came towards me with a newspaper in Bengali and started speaking in his language. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying, but when I saw the newspaper, I understood what he wanted to tell me. The newspaper had one of my interviews related to Kabuliwala printed on it. I started to search my friend “Abhijeet” who is from Bangladesh, to read me the paper since I can’t read Bengali. Abhijeet translated the printed news to me. 

On my way to Delhi a couple was traveling with me, they spoke Bengali, we talked a bit and I told him about the purpose of my trip to India and showed them the newspaper. They asked me about “Ahmad Samim Farahmand,” I said why do you want to know about him? They said that he has done something really important and can we see him? I felt very proud and started thinking about how to tell them that I am Samim. After a short pause,  I told them who I was. They didn’t believe me, later I had to show them my passport, once they recognized that I was the man in the newspaper, they hugged me and appreciated my work a lot. They passed me their address to join them sometime. This was a great memory that I carried back home with me from India. 

It was my last day in Delhi and I went to see the Bengali couple that I met on my way to Delhi from Kolkata, I found their house and went in. They were very kind, we spent time talking, they said that they didn’t believe I would come to their house after our meeting on the train. They expressed how kind Afghans are and how kind I was. Her husband was not home, but I met the whole family, we spent time together, and I told them that I was leaving Delhi and going back to Kabul. My eyes were wet with tears as I was leaving their house. I promised to visit them whenever I came to India. 

There I understood that love and kindness cannot be given, it is a true nature of human beings towards each other. This was one of the bitter memories I carried with me back to Afghanistan. 


The Solitude of the Singing Artist

Pedro Carmona-Alvarez is a Chilean/Norwegian artist. He releases his music under the name Moonpedro And The Sinking Ship since 2007. He has released three records, Ed Wood (2007), Homegrown (2013) and this year Let´s, Pig (2016). He is also a well known writer of novels, poems and essays. His books are translated to several languages, such as English, German, Danish, Turkish. He is also translates from Spanish and English, and in 2015 he was handpicked by PJ Harvey to translate her book of book of poems (The Hollow of The Hand) to both Norwegian and Spanish. He was also the editor of Signaler (2003¬–09) and of the poetry anthology Verden finnes ikke på kartet (with Gunnar Wærness), which was awarded the Norwegian Critics Prize for best translation in 2010. He has also received the Cappelen prize (2004), the prestigious Hunger Prize (Sultprisen) (2005) and the Norwegian Poetry Society’s Prize (Den Norske Lyrikklubbens pris, 2005) and in 2013, Norwegian National Radio’s award for best novel for The Weather Changed, Summer Came and So On. Recently, the Seagull School of Publishing in association with NORLA presented PEDRO CARMONA-ALVAREZ,  in an interactive session at the Seagull Bookstore here in Kolkata. All are welcome.

What it was like to leave your homeland and live in exile? Do you remember Salvador Allende?

Leaving was strange, as I was just a kid, knowing nothing about politics. But I soon found out and that kind of pushing me into adulthood, maybe sooner that it should. I had to grow up really fast. Allende, I don’t remember as such, since he died when I was an infant, but of course his image and legacy and all the iconic imagery that the exile community exposed, that I remember. 

Could you talk about the poetry, novels and literature that have inspired your works?

Oh, that´s an infinite question; The Beatles, Mercedes Sosa´s singing, Pablo Neruda´s Residence on Earth (which he wrote i Rangoon), Leonard Cohen´s precision and Bob Dylan´s stealing, Hamlet, Macbeth, Eurypides, Sonic Youth, The Pixies, Roberto Bolaño, The Carter Family, Alejandra Pizarnik, Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Violeta Parra and so on and so on. 

What influences in today's world infuse your poetry and what do you think of today's Chile? 

Everything. My poetry is an open door to everything, from political and social issues with the most stupid, meaningless, private stuff. Chile, to me, looks more and more like a giant shopping center. 

Writing is solitary. How do you feed your creative work? What role, if any, does community play in sustaining and nurturing you as an artist?

I read, listen to music, think about what I’ve read, listened to. It´s simple, actually. I am very interested in these things, regardless of me being an artist. If I didn’t write, I probably would still have been a reader and a listener. 

When I play music, I do it with my friends, and that´s nice. To be with them. Make something happen together. Writing´s different. There´s a community there as well, but of some other kind. Like a community of ghosts. 

You are a musician as well as a novelist. Do the two creative impulses come from the same place?

Yes, it does. Same well. 

What is the most important message or experience you would like your audience to have or take away from your work?

No message. I hope they make it their own, whatever it is. 

How do you see a change in relationships in the world today because of the connectivity of people or do you eschew all the social media?

I´m sure it´s changed, yeah. I’m not too deep in that stream, though. I’m not too social. I wasn’t social before Facebook was invented either. That´s why I write, I like solitude. 

Are there any new projects you are working on?

Yes, I am finishing a novel these days, and it´s growing! I also work on music, constantly, I just released an album-Let’s Pig  and plan on doing some touring this year. 


"I have no doubt that arts and music can form a bridge between cultures, religions, gender and age."

Gal Maestro is an 24 years old Israeli Double bass player . Gal graduated from "Telma-Yellin" High School of the Performing Arts, where she majored in classical music. Today she plays in various ensembles such as the "Israeli Andalusian Orchestra", "Neta Elkayam" group, pop and country ensembles, theater and more. She was here to perform at the International Guitar Festival 2016 .

Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up, what were your childhood like and what music influenced you?

I grew up in a small village between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which is called Karmey-Yosef. 
I have two older sisters (Maya-39, Anat-36) and an older brother (Shai-29), so I’m the youngest child in the family.

Thanks to my parents encouragement for the arts, I started playing classical piano when I was 7 years old. My older brother played classical music and jazz piano since I can remember myself, so as a child I was exposed a lot to both genders - Classical and Jazz. 

When did you decide you wanted to be a musician? At what point did you decide to get serious about a career in music?

Music was always a part of my life, whether from my friends or family I was always surrounded by music. During my high school years I decided to play the electric bass in order to be able to integrate into different styles of music rather than Classical music. This, along with my long time fantasy to study at The Thelma-Yellin High School of Performing Arts, stimulated me to learn this new instrument that was also very needed at this school. And so I did. 

However, at the end of the first year in school, I fell in love with the Upright Bass and began playing it as my main instrument. My years at school were enriching, exciting and unique, but also demanding, stressful and even frightening in certain ways. After graduating, I felt frustrated and insecure that I decided to quit the music world and search for a different direction. 

I joined the Israeli Army, as was my obligation as an Israeli 18 years old citizen and I found myself in an atmosphere that was completely different than my former musical way of life. I left my Double Bass aside. 

During my army service, I received a call from an elderly man that told me that his band, the Mandolin Orchestra wanted to contribute a concert to the soldiers. I don’t know why, but I was very intrigued and drawn finding out more about them. I discovered an orchestra compiled by the most amazing elderly people, all ranging between 60 to 80 years old, that have been playing music together for over 50 years. I was totally amazed by the orchestra and by the man’s love and passion towards music and to his group. Without any pre-meditated decision, I began playing with them on a weekly base.

Excited and exhilarated by music once again, I found myself frequently at the end of my days in my army day job, leaving the office, changing my uniform and pick up my bass and playing.

I think that my choice to be a professional musician may be due to the amazing people in the Mandolin Orchestra and the amazing conductor that we had there. They exposed me to a different way of looking at the music world, that I hadn't been able to understand before, when I was experiencing the competitive nature of musicians throughout my high school years in art school. 
I finished my army service two years ago, and ever since, music is my true love and profession for me. 

Who do you see as instrumental in your development as an artist?

As I mentioned before, being exposed to my brothers music and his guidance has been the largest influence for me. In addition, the experience with the elderly musicians in the Mandolin Orchestra and their Maestro Rami Bar David, helped me return to the music life with a different perspective and was a major step for me both mentally and emotionally. 

Your first love was jazz, but you eventually started to learn classical music. Why was it so?

As I mentioned before, Since I was a child, I was exposed to both classical music and jazz and I always felt greatly connected to both.

Today, I listen to and play a wide variety of musical styles, while constantly exploring my direction and my own way.

Do you think the music arena is a place where women can be empowered to affect culture and politics?

As a woman, I feel that my music and the way that I play the bass is different than men's. This difference is both an advantage and a disadvantage. However, I try not to position myself in the definition of status and gender and just play my music and be loyal to myself. I believe that every woman that is truly honest with herself and to her way of playing and performing can develop and progress exactly as men can.

What is your vision of what music can do in this age of turmoil? 

Do you think art, music and musicians can play a role in contributing to the improvement of relations between countries?
I have no doubt that arts and music can form a bridge between cultures, religions, gender and age.
Music is a language that we have in common, no matter what we believe in. 
I see it every time that I play with musicians from all over the world. There is no need to talk and to be prepared. It is just there. 

How was your experience performing at the IIGF?

For me, especially as Israeli, India, Kolkata and the amazing IIGF were an eye opener. 
I was hosted for almost one month at Pendit Debashish Bhattacharya Ji and Trypty Batacharya Ji, the head producers of the festival.

During the amazing time at their house, I was exposed to the importance of music education from age zero and throughout life. The values that children acquire by learning music, such as listening to each other, sharing, containing, supporting, creating and stating your o truth with humor and compassion are priceless. 

The political situation in Israel and in the entire world is getting out of hand. Young children on both sides are beginning to take part in this bloody war, grabbing knives and committing terror attacks. 
I am sure that if these children had been given the musical education and the values as represented at the IIGF, they would have never chosen a knife over a violin. 

What advice would you give to young girls who want a career in music?

I would advise young girls and boys that are interested in living a life of music to listen to their feelings and to what they are attracted. 

I would recommend that they proceed to make music as their profession only when they feel that they are motivated from the love of music and not from the need to impress others. When you become confident about your love of music, the hardships of persistence will come naturally. 


Move your feet to Le Pied de la Pompe!

Recently, Alliance française du Bengale in partnership with The Calcutta School of Music presented French festive rock band Le Pied de la Pompe! Known to perform on various genres including a mix of pop, rock and electro. The band members include Gérôme Briard, Erwann Cornec and Fred Mariolle.

How did your band come together?

Gerome and I play together for 15 years. We created Le Pied de la Pompe in 2007. Fred (electric guitarist) joined us in 2013.

How did you come up with the band name- Le Pied de la Pompe?

Le Pied de la pompe  is a word game. Pied for foot (we used to play on stage with different instrument with our feet:  drum, midi keyboards), Pompe for pump which is a rhythmical technique on guitar but as well a familiar word for shoe.

For someone not familiar with your music, how would you describe your sound?

French pop, folk rock songs.

Tell us about the  messages behind some of your popular tracks?

Gerome who pens down the lyrics is almost all the time inspired by the very simple things in life. Current life themes, society facts, travels … The Other, the human being is always at the center of his preoccupations.

Do you feel marketing is important in shaping a band, or do you think good music is all it takes to break the wall?

They are both linked. However, I think that if the music cannot break the walls, it can break the frontiers and gather people. 

What are some good things that you remember about the tour?

It would be impossible to sum-up in a few words what we experienced during this tour in India. We shall certainly never forget the moments we shared with people in the different workshops we practiced. The whole tour was an incredible experience.

If you could change one thing in the music world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Maybe more and more mix of different musical culture ...

What is your word of advice for aspiring bands?

Play for fun, being inspired and never give up.


"Women in positions of power strive towards social justice and egalitarianism"

Carole Poirier is a politician in the Canadian province of Quebec, and was elected to represent the Hochelaga- Maisonneuve district in the National Assembly of Quebec in the 2008 provincial election. She is a member of the Parti Québécois (PQ). Carole, in her role as the official spokesperson for the Official Opposition in the Quebec Assembly for matters related to International affairs, has the opportunity to interact with representatives from other nations.Carole’s background and interest in various cultures of the world have been deepened and enhanced by her work at the UNESCO, Paris, where for the past ten years she has served on a Committee on Cultural Diversity, representing all the Francophone countries.  Abhijit Ganguly spoke to her in an exclusive interview.

Carole was invited by the Kala Bharati community to deliver a lecture on cultural diversity and the rapprochement of cultures at the India International Centre in New Delhi. She presented her ideas on the importance of protecting cultures of minority populations.Kala Bharati organization has submitted a plan of activities for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations, to ochelaga- Maisonneuve, an official division of Montreal, in which it is located. This dynamic community wishes to develop even more dynamic cultural links with the city of Montreal and wishes to involve the Indian community in the festivities of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations: Celebrating Resonances In Cultural  Diversity.

How do you see the role of women in the political scenario?

Women have influenced public debate and policy towards more social justice, egalitarianism, and social measures.

In the West, feminism has highlighted the difficulties faced by women in positions of power, including women in politics. What are your thoughts on this and how do they reflect on your experiences as a politician?

Women in positions of power and decision making always face comparison with their male counterparts. Further, it is often implied that women should adopt patterns of behaviour and thinking that usually characterise men, but even when they do, there are judged according to other standards. A man speaking loudly to make his point is said to have guts whereas a woman is looked upon as being hysterical. Women have to be themselves, as women, not something else.

What has been the greatest challenge in your career thus far and how have you overcome it?

For me, the major challenges included becoming a member of Québec’s National Assembly representing Hochelaga- Maisonneve, the neighborhood where I grew up and learning to embody and defend my fellow citizens’ aspirations. I have striven for this in the past seven years.

Can you talk about one woman who has influenced or impacted you?

I worked for fifteen years with Louise Harel, who was the first woman to be the President of Québec’s National Assembly and President of l’Assemblée des Parlementaires de la Francophonie. As Minister of Labour, she pushed for wage equity and was Hochelaga-Maisonneuve’s MNA for 27 years.

What policies are undertaken in Canada to promote and allow the coalescence of a pluralist society? What identity initiatives are constructed in order to provide a common unifying base that secures one collective interest above an amalgamation of different cultures?

Québec’s official language is French. We have fought to gain more political powers and institutions. The French speaking people are a minority in Canada and North America. It has been a struggle to keep our culture alive, dynamic, and flourishing. Newcomers are encouraged to follow French courses, which are paid by the government. We hope to build an open and a diversified French speaking society in which all cultures are welcome.

What are your thoughts on the role of cultural diversity and cross-cultural communication as a means for conflict transformation and peace-building in countries where ethnic and tribal identities are salient?

Building peace starts with conversation, mutual discovery, and bridging the gaps between our differences. That means being open and receptive to others and curious of the beauty of other cultures. Free trade, globalization, and a consumer society tend to transform culture in marketable goods. This negatively impacts our interactions with each other because buying something means neither knowing someone nor living a human experience. That is one major problem humanity has to face when addressing the question of promoting cultural diversity.

What advice do you have for young women who are hoping to join politics?

Get involved in a cause that you are passionate about! Debate constructively with others and always strive to develop the finest, strongest, and most clear ideas possible. Never accept second-rate positions and supporting roles. Believe in yourselves and be the best person you can be.


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