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About The Event

Centre for the Study of Developing Societies invites you to a Golden Jubilee Lecture 'Demands and Dilemmas of Durga Puja ‘Art’: Notes from a Contemporary City Festival' by Tapati Guha-Thakurta.

In view of the transformed profile of the Durga Pujas as one of contemporary Kolkata’s biggest public art events, the lecture critically interrogates the categories of ‘art’ and ‘artist’ in this field, considering both the compulsions and the difficulties of their insertion into this domain of public festivity and mass viewership. It asks: to what extent does the frame of the ‘aesthetic’ enable the transformation of the ephemeral ritual icon into a ‘work of art’? How effectively can it mediate the commercial publicities, promotions and competitions that have invaded the current economy of the Pujas? How does ‘art’ provide a special form of branding of the contemporary festival and what specific kinds of identities of ‘artists’ and ‘designers’ has it nurtured in recent years? How do the Pujas turn our gaze on the many less-elect forms of artistic livelihoods within and outside the city, alerting us to the ever-slipping lines of distinction between the ‘artist’ and the ‘artisan’ in such spheres of work? And, what kinds of vocabularies of the ‘vernacular modern’ lie waiting to be analyzed here?

Tapati Guha - Thakurta is Director and Professor in History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta. She has authored The Making of a New ‘Indian’ Art: Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal and Monuments, Objects, Histories: Institutions of Art in Colonial and Postcolonial India. She is currently completing her book, In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata.

Parul Dave-Mukherji is Dean of the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU.

Chair : Parul Dave-Mukherji

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