The Second Kasauli Seminar on Aesthetics
A SEMINAR on some of the current problems in Indian aesthetics, organised by the forthcoming Journal of Arts and Ideas in collaboration with Social Scientist and with monetary aid from the ICSSR and the Sangeet Natak Akademi, was held in Kasauli from June 11 to 14, 1982. It consisted of three papers and seven presentations and was mainly representative of the performing and visual arts.
The main thrust of the seminar, and perhaps its strongest point, lay in its contemporaneity, its engagement with issues which most immediately affect the Indian cultural scene today. The presence of actual practitioners in the arts like Bansi Kaul, Maya Rao, Arun Khopkar, Vivan Sundaram and G. P. Deshpande, along with editors like M S Prabhakar and Sudhir Bedekar, apart from culture-critics from different parts of the country, gave a very special sense of urgency to the occasion, because the discussions did not remain at an abstract academic level but reflected the theoretical dimensions of some of the immediate demands of aesthetic practice in our country today. If the seminar had any single theme, it was the dynamics of the art-forms in our country at the present historical juncture.
In the opening session on June 11, G P Deshpande's paper on "Some Perspectives on the Theatre of Tomorrow" set the tone for the seminar. His paper pointed out how, in the post-1975 period, the sharpening of socio-political contradictions has been reflected in the division and polarisation of the world of the theatre itself. Whereas in the experimentations of the 1960-1975 period one finds the richness and multiplicity of colours within a single spectrum—a spectrum described by the class-consciousness of the 'urban middle classes' and their cultural liberalism—the subsequent years have witnessed the growth of a new camp, with greater ideological cohesiveness, which cannot be brought within the spectrum any more. He referred in this connection to the Dalit theatre in Maharashtra, which, desiring to use the theatre as an instrument of change, breaks away from westernised structures of consciousness and makes an effort towards the inversion and appropriation of indigenous myths.
However, preciselygbecause "different realms are now possible",