16 December 2013

India Love . . . First Weekend, Over And Out!

Dear India, 

Where have you been all of my life? 

Love, Lindsey

I am staying on the outskirts of Delhi at an arts center called the Sanskriti Foundation. It's a magical little reserve completely dedicated to traditional Indian craft. I keep trying to backtrack how I got here, but I can't seem to stay in that thought process for too long. I'm just happy to be here, you know? The trips I have managed to take since moving to Singapore have all been extremely adventurous and life-changing, each of them unique in their own way. I am so very thankful and excited to see what the next 3 weeks in India will hold . . . 

I arrived earlier than expected: 12:30pm. When I got to the airport in Singapore at 5:30am, the lady at the counter told me that they had overbooked my 3-stops-to-Delhi Air India flight and so she put me on a new, straight-into-Delhi flight. I was 7 hours early. I emailed the Foundation from the airport to let them know about this, but they never received my email. And--of course--I couldn't find any sort of WIFI connection at all once I got off of the plane in Delhi. So I found myself stuck at the airport. I also found out that once you set foot outside of the airport, the guards won't let you back in, AT ALL. Several rounds of the following conversation took place; each round making both the guard and me huffier and huffier by the second.

"Sir, is there an information desk that I can go to?"


"Can I go inside, so that I can ask them a question about getting to my location?"


"Can you give me some sort of suggestion about how to get the information I need if the information booth is in there and I'm out here?"


"Thank you, this has been a very helpful conversation."

After that, I sat on a bench next to said guard for close to two hours when 3 ladies--a mother and her daughter, and the daughter's friend--sat down beside me: each of them with 3 giant suitcases piled high on trollies. After a few moments, I leaned over and asked if any of them had a phone that would make local calls so that I could call the Foundation. Without making a long story even longer, we ended up exchanging business cards and ginger candy. They were all from San Francisco, and the mother asked if I wanted their taxi driver to drop me off at Sanskriti--that it was on their way out of town, and we could all ride together. Sounds great!

Except that we didn't really all fit into the van cab that the driver brought, and he was increasingly getting more and more irritated with us . . . When I say that we didn't really fit, what I mean is that I ended up half on the lap of one of the girls and the other half of me had a chair arm wedged into my rear, my head smashed and sort of cocked on the ceiling of the van. We couldn't see out the back window and there was a huge piece of luggage in the open space between the two front seats, and the mother had her legs crossed and on the dashboard with my small suitcase underneath her. Clown car, totally. 

What's worse is we couldn't find where Sanskriti was . . . We had the address, but our driver couldn't find the turn off because it was back in this sort of refurbished farmland. So here we were packed in this van making u-turn after u-turn, asking people for directions, making calls . . . It was a massive wild goose chase. But somehow I made it. All due to the gracious kindness of strangers.

I got out of the van, we all hugged as if we'd known each other for years, and I went into Sanskriti Foundation's gate. After being confronted by a family of monkeys looking down at me from rooftops, a man shooed them away and showed me to my room. Because it was night and I was a bit disoriented (I have a ridiculous head cold that will not let up), I worried a bit at first sight that this would be the type of room where I would have to shake out scorpions from my shoes every morning. I was not looking forward to that type of existence. But after a good long sleep (6:30pm - 7:30am), I woke up to find a magnificent space with lots and lots of potential. 

I unpacked, addressed all of my Christmas cards, and created a production calendar for the next three weeks. Then I walked around taking pictures of the grounds--about 15 acres worth. There was a clay studio, a multipurpose room with an adjoining gallery, 3 museums dedicated each to the traditional crafts represented at Sanskriti (clay, textiles, and everyday art), 9 live/work spaces, an enamel studio, and a very interesting conservation studio. That's also when I found Beyonce. She was just sitting there on a bench. Someone must've known I was coming. Either that or it was a trap.

Three meals and two teas are provided daily with our stay. This is also a good time to catch up with the other resident artists. I met two people from Great Britain, one person from Germany, and one person from Australia. All of the food is vegetarian and really wonderful--with lots and lots of flavor. 

My afternoon consisted of writing this blog and running some errands with my new Australian friend. We walked down to a small village about 20 minutes away. There were lots of random cows wandering about and even more people. We went to a few little shops, hopped in a pedicab, and stopped off at a wine shop before heading home. It was nice to get out and be able to place where I am visually. Lots of hustle and bustle outside of the Foundation, that's for sure!

My application for this short, 3-week residency included the following three statements:

A residency placement at Sanskriti Kendra will inspire place-based investigation that will continue to encourage my performance, documentary, and cultural celebration research. My hope is to connect with the local community through arts-based practices, both performance and installation-based, as well as video and sculptural.

I will be documenting my entire 20-day stay, creating a blog that records my creative research as well as a series of documentary photographs and video showing my interaction with the surrounding area. I am also interested in collaborating with young people from the adjacent community on several pieces, including a culminating show and artist talk at the end of my stay.

My hope is to fuse my contemporary studio art practice with colors, texture, and movements inspired by Delhi culture.

For the purpose of the blog, I will only be using the one you are currently reading so that there is no confusion. But I will not be writing every day. Each day, I hope to post 3 images, 2 videos, and 1 paragraph as a sort of daily journal: a 3, 2, 1 series. This type of journaling will begin tomorrow and each of the 5 days (M - F) of every week I am here. I will be writing longer posts on Sundays, taking Saturdays off.

So . . . Please do enjoy!

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