Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart talks about the upcoming European international art festival that will celebrate the cultural heritage and contemporary arts of India

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New York: Europalia is a major international arts festival held every two years in Europe. It aims to celebrate the cultural heritage of a selected country through different kinds of programs that are hosted all over Europe. Its name is a combination of two words: “Europe” and “Opalia,” an ancient Roman harvest festival held in mid-December in honour of Ops, earth-goddess and fertility deity. Her name lies at the root of the Latin word “Opus”, that denotes a work of art.

Since its debut in 1969, Europalia has organized around twenty three festivals. The festival runs from October to February and boasts of a diverse program that includes music, dance, theater, art, literature, photography and cinema. The venues are spread all across Brussels, other Belgian cities and neighboring countries. Through this unique initiative, Europalia hopes to provide the guest country an opportunity to present their cultural heritage and contemporary art practices to the rest of the world, which in turn would promote better understanding between countries and further cultural exchange between global citizens from around the world.

2013 is India’s year! Each festival enjoys the patronage of the King of Belgium and the guest country’s Head of State.

The Europalia festival strives to include every cultural aspect of the guest country, from past national treasures to contemporary works, from the arts, science and fashion to design, folklore and even gastronomy. This all-inclusive approach makes Europalia a vibrant festival pulsating with life. Working closely with the guest country enables the festival to showcase outstanding works and experiences that have not be accessible to a larger global audience.

The spirit of the festival encourages and fosters partnerships and collaboration between artists and performers. During each festival, Europalia invites celebrated artists to create a project that throws new light on a creative discipline other than their own, bringing an element of surprise and new creativity to the fore. It presents a heady mix of the past, present and the future- with many artists, who have met via this platform, collaborating on future ventures.

Select highlights from the upcoming festival

A self-curated debut exhibition of the Indian artist in Belgium, this show has a lot to offer. Consisting of a selection of her works, from her first artist books to big digital prints and video projections, to unseen works which are part of the collection of the Centre de la Gravure, including a collaborative project with students.

Nalini Malani - Listening to the Shades2 - 2008 © Nalini Malani-courtesy Burger Collection – Zurich. Image Credit:

Nalini Malani – Listening to the Shades2 – 2008 © Nalini Malani-courtesy Burger Collection – Zurich. Image Credit:

Curated by Naman Ahuja, the exhibition brings together 250 masterpieces from approximately 50 of India’s museums, archaeological institutes, and private collections, in an exploration of the complex and multifaceted understandings of the ‘Body’ in Indian art. This exhibition reveals the body not only as the subject of art, but also as the medium used to convey the values, preoccupations and aspirations of the times.

Apsara, Hoysala Karanataka, 12-13th c, National Museum New Delhi. Image Credit:

Apsara, Hoysala Karanataka, 12-13th c, National Museum New Delhi.
Image Credit:

The British Indian artist known for her sensual voice mixed with rhythms and melodies that she carefully blends has earned critical acclaim and an international following. A trained carnatic vocalist, her mesmeric voice and style of singing which blends different musical traditions while maintaining a quintessential Indian soul, sets her apart from her contemporaries.

One of India’s leading dancers, Samson brings together in this brilliant and rare production, several pre-eminent dancer and choreographers and their troupes to showcase the richness of India’s dances and martial and percussion arts. Charishnu, literally ‘the desire to move’, will in a single presentation showcase different dance styles, each in dialogue with the other, culminating in a spectacular finale.

For additional information about the festival click here.