The Artists of KYTA 2017

Photography by Baiba Yurkevich

The Artists of KYTA 2017

KYTA 2017 will showcase art installations and performances across spots in Kalga village, near Kasol, Himachal Pradesh from September 8th to October 15th, 2017.

Kalga rests at the foothills of the Himalayas. In the year 2014, Kalga went from being one of the smaller, lesser-known villages, to becoming the muse for an experimental travel company that decided to turn it into a global destination for travel, living, culture, art and expression. That was the birth of Karma Yatri Travel & Art - an experimental residency program and growing global creative community, put together by Hashim Qayoom and Shazeb Arif S., who have stayed true to their ambition and completely transformed the village in the past three years. So far, more than thirty artists from over twelve countries and twenty four distinct disciplines have spent their summer completely immersing themselves in the beauty of the village, as they collectively built on KYTA’s legacy from previous years. A legacy that is ready to live on for years to come, by the residents of Kalga. The artists collaborate with each other to produce new artworks, performances and structures along with developing new creative facilities. Curator and co-founder, Shazeb comments on the artist selection process for KYTA 2017.

'Though the selection process still remains similar; trying to find different minds, skills and styles and what this mix would be like in the artist group composition, the workflow and results are very different now. This year being a trilateral edition, the curatorial aspect has been about trying new mixtures and cultural flavours. For example, for the first time ever, we’ll have fine artists as part of the primary group.' 

The Artists of KYTA 2017 KYTA has been creating an atmosphere of creative culture fuelled by the participation of a wide array of artists and the local community alike

KYTA has been creating an atmosphere of creative culture fuelled by the participation of a wide array of artists and the local community alike

2017 is also the penultimate year of KYTA’s five-year program to set Kalga on the track to becoming a global art and culture destination. They have made some staggering changes that has helped the village shape its own true identity, distinct from the (in)famous ones of its neighbouring villages in the Parvati valley. 'We are on track for our five-year-plan with two more artistic facilities being built this year and three more by 2018,' adds Shazeb who aims on completing a total of six creative facilities to be permanently added to the village for years to come.

'This year we will be transforming one of the rooms into a synth and audio studio with an inward speaker built outdoors, where anyone can just walk in and listen to our archives. We are still working on the handover plan to the good folks of Kalga.' 

This year marks the fourth edition of KYTA’s residency program and will showcase the work of its 17 artists-in-residence who’ve made their way from South Korea, Switzerland and India, as part of its first official trilateral edition titled, 70 Years of Swiss-Indian Friendship: Connecting Minds - Inspiring the Future. Here are 5 artists that have continually excelled in their practise and will be bringing their highly distinguised artforms to the village this September.

The Artists of KYTA 2017 Photography by Baiba Yurkevich

Photography by Baiba Yurkevich

Larysa Bauge, Netherlands 
Performance Artist 

Larysa's background comprises theatre, dance and orchestra. Influences of her diverse practise can be seen in each of her performances, which she uses as an opportunity to overcome her fears. 'I see the works as an opportunity to cross the borders I normally wouldn’t cross in daily life. Sometimes that requires me to use my body but oftentimes it simply means questioning what is socially acceptable and redefining the connections between human beings.' 
Her showcase is inspired by the rich and diverse Himalayan landscape. 'The research I want to present in KYTA is driven by my interest in consciousness, its connection and influences on the biological body and scientific advances that might enhance one part or the other. It is an attempt to approach performance in an "scientific" way and in the same time treat science in a poetic way.'

The Artists of KYTA 2017

"Oil on Canvas" by Jaehong Jo

Jaehong Jo, South Korea
Visual Artist

As the founder of BAN, an art lab in Seoul, Jaehong runs his space as a multi-disciplinary platform to host artists from various disciplines. His showcase this year is an extension of two years’ worth of work, which includes painting and animation from his last visit to Kalga. 'I created a wall-painting and produced an animation about KYTA, which are actually not my style. I have never tried these kinds of styles before. I think that the unique environment of Himalaya made me try something new,' he says crediting his experimental outlook to his experiences in the village. As one of the five Korean-based artists-in-residence this year, the showcase will include a variety of Korean-style paintings along with sculpture art devised from locally-sourced art tools. 

The Artists of KYTA 2017 Akash Sharma (l) and Snehal Jacob (r) working on an omnidirectional speaker

Akash Sharma (l) and Snehal Jacob (r) working on an omnidirectional speaker

Sound Codes, India
Mixed Media Artists

A two-year-old sound consultancy and research lab that records the acoustic signatures of Indian heritage sites. This amazing attempt at preserving the country’s cultural history, is the brainchild of experimental artists, Akash Sharma and Snehal Jacob. Sound Codes is making its way to KYTA to set-up an experimental studio where musicians and sound artists get to experience a state-of-the-art speaker system. They discuss the idea behind this.
'The fun and challenging part of the concept is where we convert the walls of the room into a controller, full of knobs. These knobs essentially turns the room itself into a midi controller or a synthesiser…This facility also becomes an archive with repositories of sounds and stories for listening experiences.' 

The Artists of KYTA 2017

"Patchwork (front and back)" by Mirjam Spoolder

Mirjam Spoolder, Switzerland

Spoolder comes from a background in theatre, sculture and performance art. Currently she works as a freelance artist, whose interests stem from the communication and fashion of daily life. Sculpture art meets textile design for her KYTA installations which are heavily grounded in the culture of the surrounding valley. 'A traditional woven scarf from the Indian state Himachal Pradesh, will be re-woven and transformed into a new garment. This particular scarf has specific geographical patterns which are very common from this area.' Her art questions and borrows from the nomenclature of Shimla district. Alternative versions of the name suggest it to mean either a house built of blue slate or a blue female, suggesting Goddess Kali. 'Accordingly, where does the transformation take place when the scarf meets the blue house and the Goddes Kali?' Mirjam adds. 

The Artists of KYTA 2017

"8" by Rashi Jain, Photography by Sachin S. Pillai

Rashi Jain, India
Ceramics Artist

Rashi has championed several projects in the field of ceramics, pottery and sculpture and teaches the same through her 2003 initiative, Studio Karva. Her involvement with KYTA dates back to its commencement year, and has been creating functional installations in and around the village ever since. She talks about what she’s been working on for the program’s fourth edition.
'Over three years at KYTA, my work has journeyed from land-art, installation to community projects. This year will culminate as a communal meal in clay vessels and objects made together with locals and resident artists which will be fired in the wood kiln and pizza oven I built last edition. With every visit, I hope to bring value and share the true essence of my arts practise.'

More about KYTA 2017 and its resident artists here

Text Shristi Singh