The 2019 Auroville Art Camp – Welcoming Peace and Harmony Through Art

Art Wise

An inclusive, peaceful, invigorating space to spur art and creativity – this is what Claire and Herve, an artist couple from Auroville, had in mind when they ideated the Auroville Art Camp. The couple wanted the camp to reflect the values of peace and harmony which form the essence of Auroville – an experimental township in Viluppuram district, mostly in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in India, with some parts in the Union Territory of Puducherry. It was founded in 1968 by Mirra Alfassa, who is known as “The Mother” – a spiritual collaborator of Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo. Named after the philosopher, Auroville is dedicated to Sri Aurobindo’s vision for a better world.

(Photo credit: Marco S.)

Marking the 50th anniversary of Auroville, the first edition of the Art Camp took place in the township in March 2019, funded by the Government of India. Artists and art students from Auroville as well as other parts of India came together for a week of art practice and activities, resulting in the creation of a hotspot of artistic inspiration and exchange.

A Safe Space for Creative Exchange

Claire and Herve found inspiration for the Auroville Art Camp in an art camp in Rajasthan that they themselves had been a part of. Realising the potential of the exchange of ideas and creativity amongst artists, and aiming to build a relationship between Aurovillian and Indian artists, the couple went forth with the idea of hosting an art camp in Auroville.

Since artists often have a tendency to isolate themselves, Claire says that an environment where one can be completely focused and stimulated while interacting with other artists, becomes all the more important. “The Art Camp is the right place for that,” she says, adding that it is a space where artists can grow, in an atmosphere of “quality and silence, where the artist is protected and can concentrate on their work.”

Artists at work at the Auroville Art Camp 2019 (Photo credit: Marco S. and Monna M.)

Aiming towards a confluence of artists from different parts of India, the Auroville Art Camp with Artist Residency invites applications from artists and art students from across the country. Based on the quality of work and its alignment with the annual theme of the Art Camp, 15 artists from Auroville and 15 from other parts of India were selected for the 2019 edition of the Art Camp, along with 5 Indian art students and 2 Aurovillian art students. While the 2019 edition of the camp was open only to painters, in 2020, it will be open to all visual artists, including photographers, videographers, sculptors, and conceptual artists.

Harmony and Unity Through Art

The week-long first edition of the Art Camp was held in Auroville from March 16-23, 2019, during which artists indulged in different activities every day. Apart from working on their individual artworks, artists created a collective art installation at the Visitors’ Centre in Auroville. To bring the participating artists closer to the Auroville community, Aurovillian performing artists put up plays for the Art Camp every evening, based on the camp’s theme, ‘A New World is Possible.’ The camp closed with an exhibition of all the artworks created by the participating artists, at the Centre d’art des Citadines in Auroville. The exhibition saw a footfall of around 300 people, and marked the end of one week of celebration of art and the spirit of community.

A performance on the theme 'A New World is Possible' (Photo credit: Marco S.)

The Auroville Art Camp 2019 closing exhibition (Photo credit: Marco S.)

The artists who took part in the Art Camp 2019 donated the artworks to the Auroville Art Camp, and to quote Claire, they “belong to Auroville now.” With the aim of making these beautiful artworks available to more people and to spread the message of the Auroville Art Camp, the works are now being sold outside Auroville. The artworks created during the camp are available for purchase exclusively on Artisera. The funds raised through the sale of artworks will be used to fund the second edition of the Auroville Art Camp, all set to take place in March 2020.

A New World is Possible

The theme of the Auroville Art Camp 2019 was ‘A New World is Possible,’ inspired from a quote by The Mother, about a new world and a new consciousness, which will bring people together. The Mother was the guiding spirit behind the setting up of Auroville; staying true to her vision, the Auroville community came together to help organise the Art Camp 2019. “Aurovillians contributed to the Art Camp immensely, in both cash and kind,” says Claire.

The theme of the Art Camp’s second edition, which is all set to be held in the March 2020, will be ‘The City of Dawn’. Auroville is known as the City of Dawn, but Claire remarks that the theme of the Art Camp goes beyond this, and selected artists will be free to work on their own interpretations of the theme. The theme for 2020 has also been inspired by Savitri, an epic poem by Sri Aurobindo. “Art was of utmost importance to Sri Aurobindo; for him, it was what made a nation great,” Claire adds.

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