Of Goan Identity, Culture and Time

Goa A Time That Was, an exhibition at Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, offers a glimpse into the past, present and future of the idyllic state
An image from Waswo X. Waswo's Remembrances series
An image from Waswo X. Waswo's Remembrances series

Goa is a vision that is different for everyone. It is only natural then, that the mammoth task of compiling three photo projects by three incredible photographers would culminate in being a labour of love. Offering a peek into Goa of the past and the present is Goa A Time That Was, an exhibition where emerging artist & film-maker Ipshita Maitra, photographer & writer Waswo X. Waswo and architect & historian Dr. Vishvesh Prabhakar Kandolkar, present us with three social and cultural moments of life in Goa. 

Running from 8 September to 20 November at Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts in Panaji, each collection in the exhibition, curated by Leandré D&rsquoSouza, uses photographs as the point of departure into a narrative that builds with a different tempo. 

In her two collections, Lost Addresses and Once Was Home, Ipshita Maitra takes us through old derelict Goan homes, majestic mansions, all of which tell the tale of the stories and people that once inhabited these places, and what would become of it, once those guardians stopped existing. 

&ldquoThis 2-part collection developed almost concurrently, along the same timeline in my life. Marking my foray into choosing both a new home ground and a new form of expression, I think it is possible the themes emerged from a deep subconscious / unconscious well that was both trying to find and question identity. How do our environments affect us How attached are we to our visual tapestries Who are we without nostalgia, and thus memory,&rdquo she says.  These are the questions she tries to answer in her series. 

Described as &lsquopart myth, part reality, and part dream,&rsquo the 2-part series exhibition Longtimers & Remembrances by artist and writer Waswo X. Waswo, who first came to Goa in 2001, includes a few purely black and white shots that Waswo made in 2006. On some, his other collaborator, R. Vijay, a skilled miniature painter, has added the cartoonish insertions of Tommy and Waswo, gazing lovingly back at a past that had united them, and a landscape and people they will never forget. 

Combining two incredible styles of contemporary miniature painting and handcoloured photographs, the artist brings to life the Goa that was the promised land for foreigners and home to locals, all together in one distinct life. 

Dr. Vishvesh Prabhakar Kandolkar, the third contributor to the exhibition, casts a critical eye on the colonial-era restorative efforts of the city&rsquos many monuments, which were stripped of any external plaster so that they appeared older than they were in an effort to extend the antiquity and lineage of the Portuguese empire.

Also included in the exhibition, This is Not the Basilica, he presents archival footage, clippings from newspapers to shed light on how indigenous craftsmanship can help in reclaiming the lost history and legacy of Goan architecture. 

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