Interview with Meena Vari

Parallele Welten: How did the development of the Interim Semster at Srishti came about ?

Meena Vari: We started at Srishti with the Interim Semester in 2004. There were a lot of departments and every department was separate. Students never talked to each other. We thought that it would be interesting to have an interdisciplinary space build into the system so that students from different semesters and faculties are forced to talk to each other. Interim Semester was created with the focus that students should go out of the class room, connect with the public and create works from the public space itself. 

PW: Do you see a difference in the use of public spaces here in India to other parts of the world?

MV: in India there are very few opportunities for people to see interactive performance based art in public spaces, but historically we had a lot of things that used to happen in the street places. You have people walking around like the circus groups. Handicraft and political activists, as part of their daily life, are performing outside. But they don’t see it with that art vision, they see it as cultural things.

PW: What do you expect from the participating artists? 
We invited artists for the Interim Projects from all over India, international artists, and also artists who are all ready practicing within Srishti. This year we had 22 projects in total during the one month lasting Interim Semester. As an institution, you have to guide people to the future. Where is the future for them, that is what we have to show and thats why practices like yours become important for students here. It is like opening different ways of thinking for them. For me the Interim worked, when the students find open windows and doors to associate with the public in a way.

PW: What is your vision for the future of the Interim Project?

MV: We look at an area, a practice that can have conferences, workshops and presentations, we can invite people, who are already experts. People from all over the world come and participate within the Interim Semester, so why not creating a bank of knowledge, that can be shared with people and which can be refered back. A bank of knowledge which is practiced in the public spaces, or practiced within experimentation that new media and new mediums offer. That would be a kind of a vision. 

Meena Vari is Dean of Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice at Srishti. Since 2002, she has been developing, organizing events and projects in close association with faculty members, visiting artists and students.  

Published in Stadtkunst Kunststadt