GOA FAMILIA : Work-in-progress exhibition for Serendipity arts festival 2019
The work-in-progress exhibition for Serendipity arts festival 2019 offered an introduction into Goa Familia. Showcased were selected photographs and memorabilia, oral histories and commentaries gathered through the generous contribution of album keepers and lore holders, their stories evolving around diverse moments recorded in pictures or passed down through more elusive traditions of speech and song. Resembling the interiors of a typical Goan sala, the exhibition was hosted in the birthing ward of what was once Goa Medical College and hospital, a serendipitous location considering the large number of Goans of a particular generation born there.
Loaned specifically for the show, the displayed material traced popular accounts from Goan history as well as more private narratives of life as it once was. From public events to obscure incidents; from domestic occasions and experiences embedded in local soil, to associations with the rest of India and the world, the photo-memories touched upon the invariable cycles life (and death). For the many visitors of the Festival, collection provided multiple perspectives into understanding Goa as it is today. For the relatives and friends of the contributing families, it turned into a celebration of relationships, reunions and relived memories. The exhibition brought about an even greater understanding of how interconnected these archives can be – as people walked in to recognise teachers, friends, and loved ones from the past. A fun element was added by the ‘studio’ backdrop, and an interactive album making exercise attracted child and adult alike.
Goa Familia is a multidimensional project by its very nature, as family lives interpret and reflect social, political, economic, religious and cultural timelines in tangible ways. Then again, in terms of recorded visual history, photography in studios or access to personal cameras was restricted to a certain layer of society. An archive of family photographs helps to fill in many gaps in the telling of histories.