:: Post-Incident Report ::
by Shazeb Shaikh, Core Co-Curator, CeC 2011
(some responses appended below)
When I was first invited to CeC, in the 2010 edition, I almost missed it. At the time,
Shankar Barua (Founder of CeC and Incident Director) was a complete stranger to me and
I could not understand why my travel and accommodation was not being paid for, even though
there was such a uniquely prolific league of creative practitioners streaming in from the
world over. What could be so special about this ‘incident’, I wondered, that was inciting
such personalities to take the rough road of finding funding or even paying for themselves
to come all the way to India for these three days of springtime up in the mountains?
It all seemed too good to be true for me, being a founder of a fairly unpopular artist
collective, believing in the integration of arts and interweaving of disciplines. But
fortunately, I finally scraped through to CeC 2010 with a bunch of friends from Mumbai who
had not an idea about what they were getting into, except for CeC-regular Dhanya Pilo (who
connected Shankar and me in the first place). What followed then was simply overwhelming in
terms of sheer experience and the presence of those who had accomplished such amazing
expertise and unique knowledge gained from intensive experimentation in the universe of arts
and other creative practices – the machinery, the technologies, the core, the future, and the
I was overwhelmed enough to not make a presentation then, but I was even more overwhelmed to
believe that, when this was all actually happening here in India, there wasn’t very much of an
audience, and nor was there much public awareness of it at all. Shankar’s position on this over
the years has become that the innate magic of CeC lies primarily in it’s being a meeting of
experimental creative practitioners across disciplines, with the real ‘juice’ being in their
interactions amongst themselves, rather than with any anonymous ‘public’ audience. And, I too
firmly believe that there is just so much a budding or established creative professional from
practically any field can take away from each of these super 3 days of February in India.
It simply doesn’t happen anywhere else in this country. And, in some aspects, it simply doesn’t
happen anywhere else in the world.
Following my return from CeC 2010, I got the amazing opportunity of working as a Co-Curator for
CeC 2011 with Shankar. Work began not very long after CeC 2010, and I was involved in absolutely
everything from deciding the best dates, to inviting artists and coordinating with the whole lot,
to making presentations to possible sponsors / partners, to the disappointments of not finding any
except for the wonderful media backing by AV MAX (a special interest magazine); the continued
part-funding support from Pro-Helvetia Swiss Arts Council (though sadly reduced by half this year,
at the last minute); Flying Cursor (Parag Gandhi and team who took the ownership of putting together
a new standalone incident-website, and spreading the best word); Conjure Arts and Media (my new
little establishment); The Sattal Estate (Vijay Patni and team); Ashim Ghosh and Mangesh Dhaundiyal
(Audio/Video systems), and; the Barua family, of course, continue to be the backbone of CeC.
I couldn’t have been luckier in becoming a collaborator with all of the above in putting together CeC
2012, and we’re all together grateful to those organizations / institutions that provided some of the
participants the funding support to be with us. However, it should be mentioned for the record here
that, although we did eventually manage to cobble together a very fulsome and fantastic canvas of
Primary-Participants, we did have to deal with an unusual number of unanticipated funding failures on
the account of other potential participants along the way.
The final run up to CeC 2011 began a week before the incident itself for me, as Ivan Germon (French
Graff Writer, Primary Participant) and I reached Sattal and began our initial stay at the 2nd Last
Resort (Shankar’s Uphill Residence) on The Chill Street (named by himself), just off the block from
the main venue. While Shankar and I began to check off things on the list, unexpected rains hit town
and though he remained fairly optimistic with the weather forecast being in our favor for the incident
days, I was certainly nervous upon freezing while knowing of the snow-capped (scanty) mountains not
too far away from home. In this period, Ivan and I got to see most of the nearby towns and significant
places thanks to Shankar.
We accompanied Ivan for wall-hunting in the nearby town of Bhowali, and after one failure to convince a
wall-owner, we hit the target in a strategically located wall at the beginning of the main market – the
side wall of a butcher shop. A quick meeting with a local painter who usually paints signboards hit
another long-standing target – Ivan has been to India 5 times in 5 years and had always wanted to
collaborate with an Indian street painter and this was going to be the first. Ivan decided to return
after a few days after making his sketches for the butcher’s wall.
The CeC 2012 tent finally began to come up just a day before the incident – around the time the first
small tide of participants also began to roll in. That penultimate day quickly faded through with a bunch
of things still left to be plugged. It was colder than it was expected to be. And in that crazy chill,
we got news from Nathalie that, after they missed the evening train by arriving at the New instead of
Old Delhi Railway Station, they’d grabbed a cab (that of course made them pay dearly for their
predicament), which was expecting to arrive in Sattal at an inordinately late hour. The other larger twist
was that the cab driver didn’t know the way to Sattal after a point, which imminently meant that they
would probably be lost in the mountains, possibly all night. And so, the driver was advised to get them to
a hotel at the closest city to spend the night, which meant that, by the time it was the morning of Day 1
of CeC 2011, with a buzzing breakfast gathering of almost all of the participants, Nathalie and gang
(Hojun Song, Yoonsun Shin and Sabina Yeowoon Lee) were still on their way up, and would only join us post
the upcoming opening ‘closed-door’ meeting of ‘insiders’.
That opening meet was brimming with introductions between each other followed by a formal exchange session,
which activated the incident and as usual handed it over to the participants. The badges were distributed,
the course of the 3 days and its sessions discussed, chairpersons chosen, the schedule made, and then,
following lunch, we were all ready to roll into our first public presentation – Abha Iyengar, writer and
poet, who began the proceedings by lighting a candle. Her presentation took us through The
Storyteller-Stories and other Imaginative Spaces, before closing out with a film titled 'Parwaaz' that
blended poetry, art and film.
Meanwhile, the screening room and the Swiss Audio Zone were simultaneously on their way. Over the next 3
days, the screening room was to display one of the most exciting, diverse and extensive collections of
short creative video works and video art from the world over, while the Swiss Audio Zone next door was
occupied with music from 16 Swiss Artists. A bunch of books, mostly from Shankar’s personal collection and
including The Fall of Faust by Andrea Pagnes (Primary Participant, CeC 2011), and a couple of book projects
by Shazeb S. (Co-Curator Core, CeC 2011), were spread out on a table for accompaniment to the Swiss Music.
Both of the zones (besides all sorts of other responsibilities, including the backup electricity generator)
were ably managed by young Pankaj Kanwal, for the second year in a row – Thanks Pankaj!
The first reshuffle in the schedule happened as early as the second presentation slot, as Abhinay Khoparzi
somehow happened to be missing. Instead, Ami Dang delivered the first live performance of CeC 2011 with
material from an experimental ambient and pop music album she’d recently released, titled Hukam. But, there
was some real sharp edge to the sound during her performance, which led to some fidgeting with the audio
system and speaker layout.
Andrea Pagnes and Verena Stenke began their presentation with the trailer of their film 'Sinfin –
performances at the end of the world', shot in Patagonian Chile. In the presentation, Andrea read out
extracts on the 'artist in performing art' while Verena corresponded to that with startling actions and
physical activities such as crawling under the stage carpet.
Abhinay Khoparzi was finally around and ready to speak about projects that he has been working on in the
last year which included a fuzzy-logic based website that helps a user find the gadget best suited for his
need by answering a few simple non-tech questions. Inspired by CeC 2010, Abhinay also presented and
demonstrated his homemade 8x8 Monome.
Through some electricity failures and other delays, we dispersed for tea a bit later than scheduled. The
evening session of performances began with Lawrence Casserley transforming (read live digital signal
processing) Aparna Panshikar’s vocals through four unique pieces. These long-time collaborators who first
met at CeC 2006 have continued to renew their work together besides also collaborating in another
vocals+processing band, called 'Intervolution'. And then, the impromptu band 'Seknsak' (pun on CeC &
CaC, the original full name of CeC), comprising of Lawrence Casserley, Martin Gotfrit, Curtis Bahn, Aparna
Panshikar and Noah Gotfrit, took over in yet another spontaneous performance together at CeC.
Day 1 ended a wee-bit late but only after a short performance with a holographic video installation hanging
from the tall ceiling of the Swiss Audio Zone in Bishop’s Cottage. Shazeb S. and Vinny Bhagat performed the
video live, in accompaniment to the bizarre-but-sensitive music of Capitan Dubrovshnev.
Day 2 began with Arun Mehta and Aparna Panshikar demonstrating the use of an instrument tuning software to
learn singing through graphical interaction. Arun also led us through the progress he has made in creating
software to develop new communication mediums to help the mentally challenged associate with and interact
with the world around them.
Lipika Bansal from The Netherlands showcased her various projects that are developing creative solutions for
social change by marrying it with science and technology.
Dhananjay Gadre showcased pretty much the same set of LED gadgets he’d exhibited last year except that this
year he also came back with a published book on how to make these and many more gadgets oneself.
Lisa Kori Chung then unassumingly struck up with a bunch of simple music toys she’d created and housed in
pencil cases and sandwich boxes. And, after a brief break, whilst the generator was spun on during another
electricity failure, she followed that up with a presentation on her journey (on a research grant) to
different countries observing emerging art practices and gatherings.
Martin Gotfrit returned to CeC after a few gap-editions to take forward his association, presenting on
freeform music and the exploration of alternate tuning systems, and also renewing his collaborations with
other past participants.
Another electricity failure led to the first impromptu performance without any audio. Sheela Raj quickly
introduced the dancers Olive Lopez, Shilpika Bordoloi, and 'non-verbal' voice artist Bettina Wenzel. The
spontaneous performance of 'the heArtlight collective' was short but brilliantly used the electricity
'break' to keep everyone glued.
Miti Desai took us through a presentation cum performance on "Designing with Dance", striking
powerful stances and poses to draw links with mythology, in between talking everyone through a series of
The complete heArtlight collective followed with a performance piece "2 peas in an iPod" which
had Friedrich Glorian creating some hard-textured soundscapes with his Guzheng, his array of electronics,
and a self-made hammer-and-tong sort of instrument. Surprisingly, the two dancers were responding to music
they were hearing on their iPods while Friedrich and Bettina simultaneously collaborated with each other on
sound and voice for the rest of us.
Curtis Bahn made a presentation / demonstration on new musical expressions with his hacked e-Dilruba and
the magic wand (read bow) that generated Classical Hindustani raga accompaniment, both tabla and harmonium,
in response to Curtis’ incredible composed gestural system.
The evening of Day 2 began with an aural and visual journey drafted by Ashhar Farooqui and Vinny Bhagat
based on cyclical patterns.
Lionel Dentan and Shazeb S. constructed another aural and visual journey full of blips, lo-ambience, and
live video-processing of a sketch book scanned with a webcam.
Day 2 ended with Verena Stenke and Andrea Pagnes delivering an intense body performance just outside the
main tent with the source light being torches carried by the audience.
Day 3 began with the first and only presentation invited this time from a Guest-Participant, Alannah
D'souza, who presented on her work as an interactive-toy maker looking to address problems of the
Lawrence Casserley, who ison his 70th Birthday Tour this year, returned to deliver a very brief presentation
on his work, leaving the rest for his live performances.
Rashi Jain ended the string of presentations in the first session with a showcase of her work in ceramics, as
both a practicing artist as well as a promoter/documenter.
And then, 'As Nature Intended', a spontaneous collaboration initiated by Sheela Raj and The heArtlight
collective took off with almost everyone participating with 'anything natural'. One big circle at the center
of which were Olive, Shilpika and Verena, and another circle slowly forming around Andrea draped in stones.
Everyone returned to the tent after their last lunch at CeC 2011 to witness a presentation by Yoonsun Shin,
of projects she has undertaken as an independent curator. She was followed by Hojun Song, who had the audience
in splits with his amazing art-technology projects and ideas. 10,000 t-shirts for Hojun!
Bettina Wenzel made a short solo presentation taking us through what she can single-handedly do with her voice
and style in particular.
Nandita Kumar, experimental animator, introduced the source thoughts that led to her two part animation work on
the Brainfly which she screened back-to-back as part of her presentation.
Pankuj Parashar, a popular director from the Hindi film industry took us through some of his works that marked a
lot of firsts for Indian cinema in terms of using technology.
Ivan was too shy on the language-barrier to make a presentation so I ran a quick slideshow of images from the wall
he finally painted in Bhowali, in successful collaboration with a local Indian artist.
The last session, as is tradition by now, held in the evening of Day 3, invited spontaneous experimental
collaborations. This year we had 3 pieces – the first played by a left wing of no-computer performers; Curtis
Bahn, Lawrence Casserley, Martin Gotfrit, Friedrich Glorian, and Bettina Wenzel in collaboration with the dancers
Olive Lopez and Shilpika Bordoloi. The second piece was played by the performers on the right wing, loaded with
laptops and electronic toys – Ashhar Farooqui, Lisa Kori, Abhinay Khoparzi and Ami Dang, with Vinny Bhagat on live
video. Shazeb S. soon joined the party, beaming live video-processing all over the inside of the tent with a
portable-projector, making for two live visual sources at a time. Olive and Shilpika were joined by Verena during
this piece. The last piece had everyone playing together to the end of the 3 days of CeC 2011. A short speech and
vote of thanks later, the party began to disassemble.
This year, we had quite a few people documenting the event in video, and we are now looking forward to making a
consolidated documentary film with all of their material thrown in, and a strange brew made out of it. Thanks Akshat
Nauriyal, Darcy Gladwin, Marta Obiegla, Ashhar Farooqui, Friedrich Glorian and Nihal Anand for the footage.
There is also of course great news on a big step being taken by Shankar towards establishing the first Research and
Innovation Ashram in Sattal. Hopefully we’ll all get to see stages of its development here on in making Sattal buzz
throughout the year with empowering effect and of course there will be these three magic days again in springtime as
usual at the Sattal Estate in 2012.
Some responses from Paricipants & Guests
"What an absolutely amazing get together of creative minds! loved it"
"A most profound event that I suspect will resonate amongst the participants for many years."
"was really having a good time with you all."
"thanks so much for an incredible weekend."
"It was great to see old friends, to meet new ones and to share our work - the best CeC ever!!
"Just wanted to say thank you for a wonderful weekend! So nice meeting all of you!"
"heartfelt thanks to all of you for making CeC '11 such an extraordinary event."
"Great to see so much passionate, independent work."
"It was really a great experience to meet all of you and get a chance to play , exchange ideas
and hang out at Sattal."
"thanks for a transcendent time together. I was inspired, humbled and enthralled."
"Thanks so much for a lovely and inspiring long weekend."
"Keep up the good work."
"thanks ...., for providing space and energies for this awesome gathering of creative minds and souls."
"I came away quite exhilarated by the event."
"great job and I appreciate all the hard work!"
"There was an especially exciting mix of people this year, which shifted it all up a gear."
"Thank you ... for making it happen!"
"As inspiring as it has been, as inspiring it continues!"
"Cec 2011 has been an extraordinary intense experience"
"heartfelt thanks to all of you for making CeC '11 such an extraordinary event."
"thank you so much ... for doing CeC again. am glad I was there for all 3 days."
"I have to heartily thank you for having made possible a gathering of such excellent artists"
".... and all of you, of course, - will stay engraved in my memories as one of the most inspiring
"Super inspired and excited about next year already!!"
"thanks to you creative folks there at CeC 2011. wonderful moments of sharing and exchange. that was
great fun too..."
"I felt it was really breaking new ground on the way to becoming what we all dreamed of and hoped
for. All those years of toil are now really paying off."
"thanks for everything that you had done everything for us and CeC2011."
"First of all, I am so great to know you each other and I have to say thank you for everything you
have done to me."
"It was really good chance to know everybody and it was especially pleasure time to me in India."
"thanks again for that you have done to us."
"The participants and organizers were one component, but the wonderful shared meals, the beautiful and
isolated environs and the spirit of the ashram played a major role."
"Thanks for your insistent vision."