Without Compass or Map
Cultural Organizations/Different Dialogues
Edited by Anjum Katyal, Photographs Naveen Kishore
7 x 11 inches, 436pp. 2004
ISBN : 9788170462491
Rs 450.00 (PB)
‘What, one might ask, constitutes a genuine dialogue? . . . an exchange between two independent voices [where] exploring the other and exploring the self take place at the same time’ (Anmol Vellani).
Nineteen men and women, all professionals in the field of culture and the arts, from seven countries across Asia, attempt to engage with four diverse cultural organizations by studying them in their own environments, to better understand their histories, their achievements, and their survival strategies. ‘An exemplary form of cultural exchange’ was the aim, an attempt at peer interaction without the usual built-in power imbalance between ‘researcher’ and ‘informant’.
The ‘case studies’ are of: Zuni Icosahedron, a creative arts group in Hong Kong,working in the areas of experimental performance and multimedia presentations, arts collaborations, cultural exchange, arts education and cultural policy; Institut Dayakologi, a community-based group in Pontianak, Indonesia, concerned with revitalizing the cultural identity of the indigenous peoples of Kalimantan through participatory research, educational programmes, publications and advocacy; Kyomachiya Saisei Kenkyukai, a research association for the regeneration of traditional wooden townhouses (machiya) in Kyoto, Japan; and The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Calcutta, India, focused on promoting, documenting and disseminating contemporary arts and media.
Each is very different in terms of socio-cultural context, focus of work, role played in its respective community, and day-to-day functioning. This difference and variety have been highlighted in both the text and the design of the volume, which is a collage of extracts from interviews, letters, e-mail exchanges, essays, articles, newspaper write-ups, reports, diary entries, poetry, reflective pieces, and photographs. Many voices engage in dialogue here, with each other, and with the photographs that open up yet more ways of seeing.
This highly unusual book will be of interest to anyone concerned with the theory and practice of cultural activism and cultural exchange, especially within and across Asia.