About <de>confine 2021

After a successful first edition that reached more than 200,000 people in November 2020, <de>confine, the French cultural network’s very own South Asian Digital Arts Festival returns this November, with more artists, projects, partners and conversations than ever before. Conceived under the aegis of Novembre Numerique, a yearly initiative by the French cultural network abroad (French Institutes, Alliances Françaises, cultural services of embassies and consulates) and its partners to facilitate public engagement with digital culture and technology, <de>confine celebrates cross-border collaborations and cooperation in South Asian countries and Europe and garners support from institutions in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

Conceived and curated by Media Art South Asia, an initiative to document and disseminate the media arts in the Indian subcontinent, <de>confine hopes to draw attention to the rich and dynamic digital arts scene in the region. Using video, audio, A.I., image, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and text, the artists and creators featured in the festival represent a diverse body of work reflective of the rapid proliferation of digital culture in South Asia and around the world.

The 2021 edition of <de>confine is presented by Institut Francais (Paris), the French Embassy in India, the French Institute in India, Alliance Francaise in India, and the French Embassy in Pakistan, Alliance Francaise in Pakistan, French Embassy in Sri Lanka, Alliance Francaise de Kotte - Sri Lanka, Alliance Francaise in Dhaka, Alliance Francaise in Katmandou and the Lahore Digital Arts Festival.

It is supported by Asia-Europe Foundation, AVAH Collective, Samdani Art foundation, The Victoria Memorial Museum, Terrain. Art and Fablab Bhutan.

The festival features 5 sections:

Online Exhibition: 7 digital artworks by South Asian artists, exploring the theme Technology as an Institution

Featured Projects: 8 ongoing digital projects by established and emerging artists and organisations, exploring diverse themes such as women’s agency, colonial art, the digital art market etc.

Conversations: A series of online discussions between artists, creators and members of the French network

French Digital Corner: 7 web-based creations (image, text, sound, video) from France

Offline Events: Physical events in select Alliance Francaise centres, including an Augmented Reality exhibition in Hyderabad that will be simultaneously presented in numerous Alliance Francaises in South Asia, VR Salons, interactions with AI bots etc.

NOVEMBRE NUMERIQUE

Organised all around the world thanks to the French cultural network abroad (Instituts français, alliances françaises, embassy and consulate cultural services etc.) and its partners, Novembre Numérique aims to foster access to all new technologies, promote the extraordinary diversity of the French digital creation, to build sustainable partnerships with foreign professionals, and more widely to foster international dialogue between creators, professionals in the sector and audiences.

From India to Nigeria, Vietnam to Colombia, Spain to Iraq, Germany to Kenya, French and foreign amateurs and professionals will get together, physically or online, to (de)code, create, play and consider digital in all its forms, all together.

Whereas the health crisis questions our relationship with digital technology, individually and collectively, and the number of dematerialised events has multiplied, throughout November, Novembre Numérique will give the opportunity to continue and extend consideration of digital challenges, and encourage development of collaborative and participative uses for an audience that plays an active role in digital content and tools.

Curators

MEDIA ART SOUTH ASIA

Media Art South Asia is an initiative by Khayal Trivedi and Proiti Seal Acharya to document and disseminate South Asian media art practices across the globe. Currently, the project exists as a website with a growing database of artists, festivals, exhibitions, galleries and organisations from seven South Asian countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The M.A.S.A. initiative was conceived to address the lack of easily accessible information about the media arts in the subcontinent, and aims to act as a comprehensive resource for both scholars and enthusiasts all around the world, showcasing the diversity of practices in South Asia, and tracing its history and evolution. It also wants to highlight the artistic and intellectual contributions of these actors to the general discourse of media art, which is most often dominated by American and European voices.

Currently in development with inputs from artists and curators, Media Art South Asia hopes to emerge as a vibrant platform facilitating connections between artists and organisations within the region and beyond. It hopes to organise physical/virtual exhibitions, residencies, conferences, seminars, demonstrations, workshops and festivals in the coming years.

Deconfine is Media Art South Asia’s first curatorial endeavour, aligned with its goal of bringing artists from diverse backgrounds together, showcasing their works and generating conversations around them. As the project evolves, it hopes to connect with more stakeholders from all over South Asia, including but not limited to artists, curators, researchers, teachers, students, gallery/museum coordinators and sponsors, as well as other organisations working in similar fields.

To collaborate or to find out more, please write to: mediaartsouthasia@gmail.com

Presenters

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE IN INDIA

The Alliance Françaises in India are local chapters of the worldwide network of Alliance Française which was founded in 1883 in Paris to promote French language and culture around the world. Its 834 branches, including the 14 centers in India, are meeting places for people who share a common appreciation for France, its language and its culture. Alliances Françaises are locally registered Indian associations which offer French language classes and organise a diverse array of activities and events in the areas of higher education and visual and performing arts. The 14 Alliances Françaises in India are located in New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Trivandrum, Goa, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pondicherry, Chandigarh and Bhopal and have 19 annexes, covering the vast majority of the Indian territory. They participate actively in the cultural life of India and act as a dynamic platform for bilateral exchanges in education, arts and culture.

www.afindia.org

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE IN NEPAL

Created in Nepal in 1994, the Alliance Française de Katmandou promotes the French language by offering French classes that are open to all. For the last 23 years, it has been the only certified French institute in Nepal. The Alliance Française de Katmandou aims to spread Francophone culture by organizing events that promote both diversity and intercultural dialogue. Furthermore, it offers its students free access to its in-house media centre. Annually the Alliance Française de Katmandou welcomes around 2,500 students and more than 10,000 visitors attend cultural events.

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE IN SRI LANKA

The presence of Alliance Française in Sri Lanka dates back to 1954. The Alliance Française de Kotte (AFKo) is the only official Alliance Française located in Colombo which receives full recognition and support from the Embassy of France in Sri Lanka, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Foundation Alliance Française in Paris. The AFKo is the head of a network of four Alliances Françaises in Sri Lanka (Kandy, Jaffna, Matara, and Galle) and one in Male’ in the Maldives. https://www.alliancefrancaise.lk/

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE IN DHAKA

Often known as the French cultural and language center, the Alliance Française de Dhaka has been working in Bangladesh since 1959. It is located in the center of the capital, in Dhanmondi, the heart of the cultural and artistic activities in Dhaka. Since its creation, the AF has contributed to the dialogue of cultures and the promotion of cultural diversity. It has been working in close collaboration with emerging and confirmed Bangladeshi artists and intellectuals in different fields: visual arts, performing arts (music, mime, poetry, theater, dance, circus) cinema, discussion of ideas and literature. In 2019, the Alliance has registered 6960 students in French classes and welcomed more than 24 500 spectators to photography, sculptures and painting exhibitions, concerts, screenings and conferences. If lots of activities are taking place in its facilities (auditorium, gallery, cafe and classrooms) many performances are organized with key partners such as the Shilpakala Academy, the Liberation War Museum and Dhaka University. The Alliance has collaborated with major cultural festivals such as the Children Film Festival, Dhaka International Film Festival, Dhaka Art Summit, etc. www.afdhaka.org

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE IN CHITTAGONG

Founded in 1965 by a group of French and Bangladeshi citizens, a member of the global Alliance Française network and a cultural partner of the French Embassy in Dhaka, Alliance Française Chittagong is a prestigious institution focused on the promotion of the French and global cultures and the teaching of the French language. Alliance Française Chittagong organises events featuring international artists and performers. It also supports the social, economic and ecological evolution of Bangladesh, notably supporting Women and Minorities’ rights initiatives and projects focusing on sustainable development and renewable energy. www.afchittagong.org

ALLIANCE FRANÇAISE IN PAKISTAN

The core missions of the Alliances Françaises are to develop the teaching and the use of the French language throughout the world, to promote the values of the French-speaking countries as well as to encourage exchanges between cultures and to contribute to the development of cultural diversity in general.

They are part of a unique network in the world, made up of eight hundred Alliances Françaises in one hundred and thirty three countries.

The Alliances Françaises have been in Pakistan for more than fifty years and currently consist of three offices located in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi.

They work actively to disseminate the French language, the French culture and French-speaking cultures by organizing French courses, offering translation services, and providing official certifications issued by France Éducation Internationale. They also organize, in partnership with local structures, artistic and cultural events.

Institut Français en Inde

The French Institute in India (IFI – Institut français en Inde) is the education, science and culture cooperation service of the Embassy of France in India. It facilitates academic and scientific exchanges between Indian and French higher education institutions, enables student mobility and promotes French language and artistic and cultural partnerships.

Cooperation between India and France takes place through a number of sectors: Arts & Culture, Books & Ideas, French Language & Education, Study in France, Academic Partnerships, Science & Technology, as well as Innovation and Multimedia. IFI acts as a matchmaker in the exchange of expertise, strengthening connections among private companies and public institutions between France and India.

Through Campus France, IFI offers a specific service geared towards students, which can be accessed in 12 offices across India. Campus France officers provide students free counselling services. They facilitate admission procedures and visa formalities and liaise with French institutions for student applications. Campus France holds biannual education fairs where students intending to study in France are invited to meet representatives of top institutions one-on-one.

Ambassade de France en Inde

As early as the 1980s France wished to give greater scope to its relations with India. France bet on India’s strategic, diplomatic and economic emergence, and steadfastly supports India’s requests in several strategic matters: a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, better participation in the decisions taken at international fora (such as the expanded G8 and G20) and access to civil nuclear cooperation.

Institut Français

The Institut français promotes French culture internationally, in dialogue with foreign cultures. It promotes initiatives related to various artistic fields, intellectual engagement, cultural and social innovation, and linguistic cooperation. It promotes the French language around the world, as well as the mobility of works of art, artists and ideas. The Institut français is the public institution responsible for the international cultural actions of France, under the supervision of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture. The Institut français in Paris works with the 131 cultural services of the French embassies, and the 98 Institut français headquarters with their 138 branches throughout the world (under the authority of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs) as well as the 27 French Research Institutes abroad (under the aegis of the MEAE and the CNRS). It also collaborates with the 850 Alliances Françaises (locally-governed associations) set up in 134 countries and linked by the Alliance Française Foundation in Paris.

Lahore Digital Arts Festival (LDF)

aims to celebrate the emerging digital culture of Pakistan by bringing together a community of artists and audiences to explore the intersection of art, technology and everything in-between. LDF seeks to nurture dialogue around art accessibility, creative exchange, and experimental expression to commemorate the growing interest groups in the areas of art and technology.

Partners

AVAH

(AVAH) Afghan Visual Arts & History is an independent and global research collective and multimedia platform. Their contributors are artists, art historians, curators, art world professionals, writers and creatives covering Afghan Visual Culture, inclusive of its diaspora and minorities. AVAH Contributors engage critically with Afghan and Afghan-diasporic themes at the nexus of visual culture, but also post-colonial theory, gender and minority-inclusive politics, history and cultural production and practices in a broader sense.

The Asia-Europe Foundation - Communication Partner

ASEF promotes understanding, strengthens relationships and facilitates cooperation among the people, and institutions of Asia and Europe.  ASEF enhances dialogue, enables exchanges and encourages collaboration across the thematic areas of governance, economy, sustainable development, public health, culture, and education.  Founded in 1997, ASEF is a not-for-profit intergovernmental organisation located in Singapore. It is the only permanently established institution of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Together with about 700 partner organisations, ASEF has run more than 650 projects, mainly conferences, seminars and workshops. Over 17,000 Asians and Europeans have actively participated in its activities and it has reached much wider audiences through its networks, web-portals, publications, exhibitions and lectures.  For more information, please visit www.asef.org.

Samdani Art Foundation

The Samdani Art Foundation (SAF) is a private arts trust based in Dhaka, Bangladesh founded in 2011 by collector couple Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani to support the work of the country’s contemporary artists and architects. Led by Artistic Director and Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, SAF seeks to expand the audience engaging with contemporary art across Bangladesh and increase international exposure for the country’s artists and architects. Its programmes support Bangladeshi artists and architects in broadening their creative horizons through production grants, residencies, education programs, and exhibitions.

Team

Khayal Trivedi is a curator and researcher, with a background in media arts and computer engineering. Currently working at the intersection of arts and technology, he enjoys developing spaces for multi-disciplinary and collaborative creative practices. He was previously the Cultural Coordinator at Alliance Française d’Ahmedabad for three years, where he produced several concerts, exhibitions and platforms such as Art Speaks, Café Philo and Boomerang: An Eco Fest. Most recently, Khayal has co-curated the first edition of <de>confine digital arts festival as part of the two-member collective, Media Art South Asia. He has also worked as the Digital Coordinator at the Copenhagen 2021: World Pride and Euro Games Festival.

Proiti Seal Acharya is a writer and researcher with a background in literature and media arts. They are a co-founder of Jodi Bolo Rongin, a non-profit that develops arts engagements centred on regional Indian languages and cultural practices.  Their  writing has been published in anthologies by Rupa Publications, Scholastic Inc. and Bee Books. They have previously worked as part of the teams behind Beyond Matter EU by the ZKM Center for Art and Media, and the Digital Storytelling Festival by the Europeana Foundation. Proiti also co-curated the first edition of <de>confine digital arts festival as part of the two-member collective, Media Art South Asia.

Kasjmier Leela is a design minded technologist with 7 years of graphic design experience and a foundation in software development. Currently they work with creative businesses to design & develop layout systems for the most expressive and impactful websites. They offer rich layout systems that can scale efficiently into multiple formats and are future proof for painless updates. Design and technology are at the core of what they do, and they aim to help brands and organisations create automations and digital solutions that will simplify their day-to-day so they can focus on dreaming up the next dream. They are interested in creating, archiving and assisting.

Yatharth is an anti-disciplinary designer/artist/researcher exploring our relationship with emergent media technology, both as its users and makers; the future they might bring, and how they can become more accessible and equitable. Yatharth’s work and research looks at technology as a tool for both control and liberation. In their practice as a designer-maker they use creative-technology and Interactive media to inquire how to use technology to express, create and create new tools. As an artist and researcher, they critically examine issues with distribution of technology, power structures and their socio-political impact, through speculative and academic writings. They have been trained in Exhibition Design and Interactive Media Design.

Tamalika Roy is an UGC Junior Research Fellow and is currently pursuing an M.Phil in Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University, Kolkata. They have done their undergraduate and postgraduate studies in English Literature. They are interested in both academic research and practice. Their research areas include gender, performance, political theatre, new media, popular culture and South Asian history. They are also a performer and a co-founder of Jodi Bolo Rongin, a non-profit arts-for-change trust that curates artistic engagements and works with children and youth to address social and cultural issues through art and literature. For <deconfine>, they have worked on communication on behalf of Media Art South Asia.

Surviswa Banerjee, 22, is a freelance video editor, currently pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication and Videography at St. Xavier's College, Kolkata. They have considerable experience in cinematography and video editing, notably as part of Aabol Taabol, an independent music collective.