Open Circle was set up by Sharmila Samant and Tushar Joag to seek a creative engagement with contemporary political issues through the integration of theory and praxis. Therefore Open Circle organised annual workshops and symposia for artists from India as well as other (chiefly developing) nations. They addressed social and political issues in their local manifestations as well as in their global ramifications.
Open Circle was formed in 1999, based in Bombay and ran through 2008.
read » 2005 Participation OK Video Festival in Durban by Pulse
read » 2004 Project Cabin Baggage with RAINpartners at the World Social Forum, Mumbai
The World Social Forum is not an organisation or a united front platform. It is " an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and inter-linking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo- liberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a society centred on the human person".
Founded in 2001 in Porte Aegro, Brazil, the World Social Forum took place from 16 - 21 January 2004 in Bombay, India.
The Forum was accompanied by multidisciplinary events that critiqued and opened up a discourse on the current global issues. Open Circle organised, among other events, the exhibition CABIN BAGGAGE were the partners in the Rain Network have been invited to participate in.
The quintessential character of the current world order has been transit. Results of globalisation are characterised by movement- the globe trotting entrepreneur, the corporate executive and the cultural practitioner, the consuming tourists, optimistic migrant, resistant exile, desperate refugee.
The subject of Cabin Baggage was the new discrimination that evolved after 9/11; while some people can travel anywhere, others are excluded. Stricter rules and controls on airports in association with terrorism, SARS and anti-immigration politics validates the one way traffic of today. The participating artists took their artwork along as 'cabin baggage'. It is the baggage we refuse to check in, something we carry our resistance in…?
read » 2003 Presentation at the 8th Bienial
In response to worldwide consumerism driven by imperialistic powers,
Open Circle launched a "malady" - a fictitious product - by means of a high-tech advertising campaign named "Neuro Terminal Hyper Regressive Consumeritis Syndrome" (NTHRCS).
Television commercials, billboards and freebies prepared the public for NTHRCS. "Malady is an infectious bacteria that invades the mind and the body, that will reduce people to dummy agents, that will spread on radio and television waves, that is almost always fatal, regardless of treatment."
read » 2002 Indian Sabka Youth festival
At a time when the country is being continuously pushed into incomprehensible violence in the name of religion for vested political gains, Open Circle, alongwith Majlis, a cultural and legal canter joined hands to formulate a Youth Competition and Festival around concerns of secularism. Called India Sabka, it was structured within the popular culture with innovative prizes, career opportunities, celebrities, et al! The India Sabka Competitions opened to colleges across Mumbai in September and culminated in a two day Festival held on 17th and 18th of December 2002.
Held across over 100 colleges, the competition entailed the students responding to a selected references on the India Sabka Poster. These included, an image of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, a poem by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, clippings from an Ahmedabad newspaper during the Gujrat genocide, etc., based on which they were to design Billboards, propose a Video Loop, Art Installation, Performance, write a piece of Fiction on 'multi-cuisine culture of India' or design an Architectural intervention 'towards integrating a settlement which is ghettoized on communal lines'.
This was a two day event at the Y B Chavan Center on 18 -19th December with a number of popular events such as interactive stalls, Romeo and Juliet play, Taufiq Qureshi concert alongside lectures and film screenings, video and art installations.
read » 2002 Reclaim our freedom, manifestation
Open Circle manifested herself in the project Reclaim Our Freedom to protest against violence in the name of religion. The initiative organised a series of interventions in public spaces and galleries in Kala Ghoda and Churchgate in Mumbai in the week of 6 - 15 August 2002.
Historically this week has been replete with violent incidents and loss of human life; 6 August is the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, 9 August on Nagasaki and 14 August of the Launching of the Quit India Movement: Partition of India and Pakistan.
Open Circle wanted to mark this week to make a begin of harmonious co-existence and as a tribute to the victims from history and from our recent past of the bloody carnage in Gujarat.
The activities of Open Circle in this project were displayed in many forms and disciplines. Exhibitions were made in several spaces, screenings and talks held on the school of architecture and dance- and music performances in other venues. In public spaces the project got attention by posters and public actions such as making art in public together with art students or painting banners with children.
read » 2002 Economic Reforms programme, a series of study circles
Open Circle 2001-2003 will focus on the imposition of economic reforms, and their impact -especially on the working class. This will further enable an examination of the conjuncture of discrimination and pressures encountered by developing nations under the newer guise of globalisation.
The imposition of these reforms as studies show, have a wide range of detrimental effects, from civil wars to environmental hazards, social and economic breakdowns. Either there is a total collapse of the national economy or the rich get richer, and the complacent middle classes hide their heads in the sands of consumerism. For them the consequences of the crisis are deferred or will perhaps even evade them in their lifetime. In both cases, the most direct and adverse effects of these changes are felt by the working classes.
The program is structured in three phases …..
The evening began with a performance by Shahir Sheikh Jainu Chand and Kesar Chand, followed by a presentation of sound piece, slides and lectures by Ms Neera Adarkar ( architect, activist ) and Ms Meera Menon ( unionist , activist ).
Both speakers have worked extensively on the social and cultural history of the Girangaon- the working class belt in the heart of Bombay. They have an active involvement in the recuperation of the fabric of the area.
The screening of two films by Anand Patwardhan (documentary film maker, activist)
Fishing in the Sea of Greed and We are not your Monkeys followed by a talk of Dr Vivek Monteiro (Secretary, CITU, Maharashtra)
: Is L.P.G. (liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation) Inevitable
Screening of the a film Jari Mari - of cloth and other stories by Ms. Surabhi Sharma.( documentary film maker).
Jari Mari is a sprawling slum adjacent to the Mumbai International airport. It houses hundreds of sweatshops where women and men work for paltry sums producing goods for export.without the rights to organise.
This was followed by a talk by Ms. Girija Gupte and Ms. Mary Antony (both Trade union activists)
: The hurdles in organising workers in the informal sector; a task they have been involved with.
Talk Structure of greed by Shailesh Kapadia, member of the international and Australian psychoanalytic society and Council member of the Indian psychoanalytic society.
read » 2000 Workshop with international artists: Displacement and cultural difference
The first program of Open Circle, held in October 2000 brought together 16 artists from nine countries and a theorist as participants for a three-week workshop.
Kiran Subbaiah, Bangalore ; Pushpamala, Bangalore, Anandjit Ray, Baroda ; Natraj Sharma, Baroda, Bharti Kher, Delhi ; Anita Dube, Delhi, Sharmila Samant, Mumbai ; Anant Joshi, Mumbai, Karma Clarke Davis, Toronto ; Jenny, Jaramillo, Quito, Ade Darmawan, Jakarta ; Osnat Weiss, Tel-Aviv, Paula Santiago, Mexico City ; Folkert de Jong, Amsterdam, Aisha Khalid, Lahore ; Greg Streak, Durban, Theorist : Chaitanya Sambrani