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Seminars and Multi-Media Exhibitions on Fundamental Themes

Stretching over a span of six-years, IGNCA explored a series of fundamental themes which transcend cultures, periods of history, disciplines and linghistic barriers. These themes which dwelt on many dimensions and perceptions at the interior and exterior levels of experience and manifestation were expressed through multi-media projections and linked to multi-disciplinary seminars.

Theme Exhibition Seminar
Kham (Space) 1986 Explored the many dimensions and levels of Space Explored the multi-dimensional & cross cultural perception of Space
Akara (Form) 1988 Dealt with the relationship between the unarticulated silent sound, the articulated word and the written word. The exhibition also projected the art of writing as script and calligraphy from diverse cultures. Focused on the relationship of sound & writing, manual and technological skills, the language of form in iconography and calligraphy.
Kala (Time) 1990 Explored the many dimensions of Time, as thought, expression and experience, objective and subjective. and man's perception of it. Dwelt on every aspect of Time, reaffirming the notion of university of Time.
Prakriti (Nature and Man) 1992 Sought to provide an integral vision of the symbiotic relationship between man and nature Dealt essentially with reflections on nature with reference to the basic elements that constitute man and the universe, from both the traditional and the modern perspectives.

Kham Exhibition


Exhibition Panels from 'Akara'

The four exhibitions and seminars which dwelt on the universal concept-metaphors of Space, Form, Time, and Nature and Man were organized as a tribute to the universal heritage. The first of these was the exhibition entitled 'Kham' and seminar 'Akasa'. Taking all the multi-layered meaning of the term 'akasa' into cognisance the seminar integrated the insights of ancient philosophy, religion, art, architecture and those of modern science. The participants included scientists, philosophers, men of religion, archaeologists, art historians, artists.

Exhibition Panels from 'Akara'

The seminar elicited the insights of Raja Ramanna, a physicist, on the one hand and R. Panikkar, a philosopher, on the other. The eminent scientist-philospher D. S. Kothari drew attention to the inextricable link between these two disciplines. In an analysis of the cosmological dimensions of Space, Irene Winter represented the Ancient Near Eastern Monuments, while Michael janson dwelt on Space in Harappan City Planning.  Stella Kramrisch, John Irwin and Lokesh Chandra established the connection between Indian Cosmogony and Indian architecture and T. S. Maxwell spoke on Spatial Structure in Indian Sculpture. Mani Kaul, Tripti Mitra and G. Sankara Pillai concentrated on the several facets of the artistic dimension. Maha Mahopadhyaya Lakshman Shastri Joshi who closed the seminar, gave an exposition of the multiple layers of 'akasa'. In short the seminar stretching over six days and comprising distinguished scholars from various disciplines and cultural contexts was an attempt to reintegrate the fragmented humanity of our times. The exhibition was an attempt to translate Space meaning into actual spaces. It tried to convey Space as a sense experience, as usage and as concept.

From the abstract Space the movement veered towards the concrete area of Form and so the next twin programme was 'Akara', a "Quest for the perfect form, beyond." The attempt here was to consider the parallel relation of the spoken word to writing. Though systems of writing differ vastly across time and cultures, the fundamental principles of the origin, the configuration of letter forms and the perception accepted this essential premise. The programme also underscored the importance of calligraphy where the sign becomes the symbol, and the unmanifest becomes the manifest.

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The third in the series was 'Kala' (Time), for the notions of Time have dominated man's imagination from time immemorial, finding expression in traditional speculative thought as also in modern scientific explorations. The seminar and the exhibition dealt with Time as a point or duration, stillness and movement, void and fullness, arrow and circle, conical or concentric in form.

Recreation of Nazca Lines of Peru in front of Mati Ghar - Kala Exhibition

The seminar focused on Time as inspiration of artistic expressions and as "experience" of the ever present NOW, transcendental and immanent. The seminar was a culmination of a series of preliminary workshops on the subject. Divided into six major themes 'Concepts', 'Consciousness', 'Myth and History', 'Creative Process', 'Creative Response' and 'Transcendence and Immanence', the seminar was attended by about sixty multi-disciplinary scholars from all over the world. Among them were Seyyed Hossein Nasr, John McKim Malville, R. Panikkar, V. N. Mishra, John Broomfield, S. C. Malik, Peter Malekin, Kapila Vatsyayan, G. Sontheimer and many other scholars from different disciplines.

The philosophical, religious, scientific, artistic concepts of Time were unravelled during the seminar. Aspects like specific textual treatment of Time, its impact on particular fields of experience, creative processes of nature of artistic form in relation to the notion of Time were all explored in the seminar. The multi-media exhibition on Time was an attempt to highlight this universal theme as a physical and metaphysical presence.

The next attempt was to decode the perceptions of man and nature, in terms of the basic elements (bhutta) that constitute the universe, to evoke an integral vision. The five elements (pancabhuta) - earth, water, fire, air and ether / space - provided a matrix on which a holistic worldview of traditional societies is based. They also form the basic vocabulary of creation myths, sacred rituals, creative expression and the seminar tried to re-evoke the traditional perceptions of nature and see them in relation to contemporary ecological insights. A series of four subsidiary seminars held in 1992 in the broad area of cross-cultural lifestyle studies. There are

A view of Exhibition on 'Prakriti'

The seminar 'Prakriti: Nature and Man - An Integral Vision', which marked the culmination of all these seminars, was held from an interdisciplinary approach, with the participation of scholars from all over the world. Some of the papers include 'Holistic Science and Consciousness' (S.C. Malik), 'An Integrated View of Nature' (Satish Kumar), 'The Zuny View of Nature' (T. N. Pandey), 'Cosmic Nature of San (Bushman) Law' (A.J.G.M. Sanders), 'Pancatattva in Artistic Manifestation' (Haku Shah), 'Traditional Knowledge Systems and Modern Environment Management' (Anil Agarwal), 'Man, Nature and the Universe' (Jayant V. Narlikar).

Smt. Sonia Gandhi in conversation with the potter - Prakriti Exhibition

The underlying assumption of the seminar was that the overriding insight is the same in astrophysics and the indigenous tradition across the world because man's life is thoroughly interwoven into the fabric of life on our planet and ultimately into that ordered and harmonious system which we call cosmos.


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