Holi Hai! is an International Residency that will take place in India and the UK in early 2023. This collaborative partnership between Artcore and FORMAT International Photography Festival will support the creative collaboration and exchange of 2 UK artists and 1 Indian artist working in lens-based and related media. The selected artists will undertake a two-week residency in Vadodara, India, before travelling to Derby, UK to install an exhibition at Artcore as part of the next FORMAT biennial – FORMAT23 – taking place in Derby.
The Holi Hai! Residency will take place in the tribal-rich district of Chhota Udepur in the western-most state of Gujarat. For the Rathwa tribal community in this region, Holi is their most important festival and is celebrated across the districts for almost ten days. The main method of celebration is through numerous village fairs where tribal families, dressed in their best clothes and jewellery congregate to enjoy themselves; participating in community song and dance, playing the flute, shopping, eating from food stalls and so on. The villagers reach the fair, almost dancing their way from their village. It is a sight that is seen to be believed! The base for the Resident Artists in this tribal area will be the Adivasi Academy (Adivasi = Tribal) at village Tejgadh in Chhota Udepur district.
Adivasi Academy is managed by the Vadodara-based Bhasha Research and Publication Centre which works with documentation of tribal culture, history, arts and crafts, performance art, way of life and their indigenous languages. The Resident Artists will be supported by selected staff (tribal) from the Academy who will accompany them to the fairs and other local places of interest.
In 2023, Holi falls on the 6th and 7th of March (Holika worship and burning on the evening of the 6th and Dhuleti – playing with colours – on the 7th). The most important Holi fair is the Gher no Melo (9th March, near Kawant town), then there is Raichinpura no Melo (10th and 11th of March near Tejgadh) and Waghwastal no Melo (12th March, near Chota Udepur town). (Melo = Fair).
The selected residency artists will have the chance to visit these fairs, meet residents and other artists, and the opportunity to visit the Art School at the M S University in Vadodara city and Champaner-Pavagadh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is in that neighbourhood. They will also spend a few days in the nearby cities of Vadodara and Ahmedabad, (also a UNESCO Word Heritage City) to learn more about the tribal communities and importance of the Holi festival. The artists will each make work responding to the festival celebrations, culture, and residents of the villages; exchange ideas and practices to curate a collaborative exhibition at Artcore Gallery in Derby, UK for FORMAT23.