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21 Jul 2017

An Experimental Residency Program in the Himalayas

Sachin Pillai

KYTA 2017: An Indo-Swiss-Korean Travel and Art Experiment


September 08 - October 15 2017 Trilateral edition featuring 17 artists from India, Switzerland and South Korea Official program in the '70 Years of Swiss-Indian Friendship: Connecting Minds-Inspiring the Future Produced by Karma Yatri and supported by Pro Helvetia - Swiss Arts Council

Shazeb Arif S.

Kalga, Barshaini village
Himachal Pradesh

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The summer of 2017 has unraveled a truly astounding situation in Kalga - our muse, the Himalayan village is booming. The wooden home stays have been polished new, the modest interiors have been upgraded, the prices are now 3 times that of last summer, and most significantly there is new zest that seems to have possessed the villagers and travellers alike. Past members of KYTA, who spent a quality summer in Kalga inform us about their conversation with the locals who credit our collective contribution to this fairy tale. And so now we can confidently state that art does make a difference - clearly identifiable and quantifiable. And this is still only the beginning as we announce the 4th edition of our travel and art experiment, KYTA - our penultimate program before the finale in 2018 when we will officially and gratuitously hand over the project and facilities to Kalga, its land and its people, in the present and into the future. Most critically, while maintaining its original essence as a Himachali village.

KYTA 2017 is already an edition bedecked with a whole lot of firsts:
1] 1st trilateral edition with artists from Switzerland, South Korea and India - in the past (2015), we hosted a bilateral edition with artists from India and France.
2] It's the 1st time we are hosting more than 10 artists-in-residence - this year we will have 17, and certainly a lot more artists and friends who will grace the program as visitors
3] It's the 1st time we have won the support of a global institutional giant in culture, Pro Helvetia - Swiss Arts Council, besides multiple institutions in Switzerland (Ausstellungsraum Klingental, Atelier Mondial, Alps Art Academy) and South Korea (Artlabban) are officially associated with the artists and KYTA 2017
4] 1st 'open-home' finale set in Kalga at the end of the edition for visitors from all over to join us to experience artworks, performances and live inspiration with a showcase by our artists-in-residence - in the past editions, we have concluded the program in New Delhi with a showcase, last year being hosted as part of Contemporary Art Week 2017.
5] 1st experimental facility for sound will come up to add to the sculpture and pottery studio established in 2016 - the vision is to create a notional synth-in-a-room concept that can also function as a bedroom studio
6] 1st collaborative experiment with two dancers as a pilot for an Indo-Swiss dance exchange program that will be launched in Manipur in 2018

The 2017 residency program adheres to the customary KYTA composition of multiple practices within the core resident artist group - in 2017, their range spreads across experimental architecture, new media, sound, land art, fashion, dance, theatre, installation, music, street art, painting, writing and material research. The focus of this edition continues to be on the give and take of cultural and skill-based knowledge between the artists hopefully forming multiple works with multiple owners. The new works will emerge from a research period for identifying materials, process and workflow that boost longevity of the artwork and individual and collective effort invested in the project, into the future. The final works will consequentially flow into Kalga's art collection that is spread across the village, its homestays and other structures, and in electronic formats that will be added to our steadily growing archive.

This year, we are on track to establish the second artistic facility in Kalga with an experimental audio environment that will have a making and a listening component. Alongside we are also planning a microprogramming make-space that could be housed on a few shelves or inside two suitcases, and also a basic workshop with tools for wood, stone and soft metal. By October 2018, we are preparing to initiate an 'inner observatory' and an extreme subject library to have a diverse collection of experiences to choose from that are theoretical and practical, and not just aimed at the artist or the artistically inclined. With the stimuli offered by these facilities, we envision that these will draw in artistic and public engagement in the years to come and produce new stimuli of creation of artworks and hopefully more small-mid scale facilities. We think of our efforts as framing an artistic ecosystem that must build upon its own identity and shape it over time in collaboration with the local community and the incoming visitors.

KYTA has been generously supported by Karma Yatri, an experimental travel company directed by our co- founder Hashim Qayoom, since our inception and continues to remain the primary patron of this travel and art experiment. It's been a specially brave endeavour and display of insight on the part of the supporters having no direct experience in the field of art and culture, to initiate and back what would stand no chance to institutional or corporate sponsors in India, but is today listed amongst the most sought after international residencies in India with a clear focus on experimentation and collaboration. KYTA would not have been as warm and fuzzy as it has turned out to be without the efforts of our home team that has supported the artists over the past editions by taking care of their hospitality and cooking up a storm for them with a planned menu for the entire duration of the program. With the artists coming in this year, we will have hosted 48 resident artists, emerging and established, young and senior, from all 6 continents, working across a wide spectrum of practices - this has been possible in most cases because of the artists themselves who have invested their time and talent in Kalga, and by various other good folks from all over, who have facilitated and supported the participation of some artists in various ways.

We now invite you to come be a part of our Himalayan community and contribute to our collective vision of establishing Kalga as one of the choicest places in the world to imagine or produce art - our oasis of expression at the top of the world. With an eye on the long term, we would especially love to make new connections with art, cultural and social institutions in India and the world to empower and partner our vision with synergistic projects. As an individual, you could also assist the project and its development through contributions on our crowdfunding campaign. But most importantly, plan to be there to experience Kalga's romance with the artists at our Open Village weekend (12-15 October)!