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OCTA 2021: Two One Za Two, Two Two Za...

OCTA 2021: Two One Za Two, Two Two Za... is a book box published by BlueJackal. The box contains 7 illustrated books and a pair of 3D glasses. To read more about the books and the project that led to them, see below.

Shop for your copy of OCTA 2021 -  click here.

OCTA 2021: Two One Za Two, Two-Two Za… is an outcome of a year-long engagement, January 2019 to October 2019, conceptualised by BlueJackal and realized in collaboration with Artbuzz Studios, Delhi. This engagement took the form of a series of 3 workshops (one week long each) with 24 artists/illustrators.

We conceptualized these workshops and programs around the thematic of ‘childhood as a site’, with specific focus on revisiting rhymes and proverbs that we have grown up listening to. Rhymes and proverbs have often made language and learning more accessible and imaginative to us as children and helped us negotiate various social transactions and relations. However, they have also carried deeply disturbing and regressive world views that have served as models for a future that many of us have come to question. The purpose of the workshops was to help us creatively and critically revisit these rhymes and in the process, to rethink childhood as a generative site requiring constant reworking and rethinking rather than an already defined stage in an evolutionary and teleological understanding of growth.Through this collective exercise we wanted to bring this rethinking to our work as artists and illustrators making images and stories for children around us.

We invited artists/illustrators from varied cultural and linguistic regions to facilitate conversations across geographies but around shared interests and work in children’s books. We worked collectively and the discussions around childhood as a site through these rhymes and proverbs, was as important to us as the creative work that emerged from these discussions.

OCTA 2021: Two One Za Two, Two Two Za... is an outcome of these workshops.

First Workshop: Artists discussing works
Second Workshop: Artists discussing and working
Third Workshop: Artists discussing and working
For the first workshop of this series, we had 8 artists - Akshay Sethi, Anupam Arunachalam, Anupama Chatterjee, C Sailo, Manmeet Sandhu, Pallavi Arora, Reshma Khatoon, Shromona Das, along with BlueJackal team members Lokesh Khodke, Shefalee Jain and Shivangi Singh. And for the second workshop we had 7 artists - Vidyun Sabhaney, Tahsin Akhtar, Stuti Mamen, Anarya, Gargi Chandola, Anshu Jakhar, and Rohit Kumar. For the third workshop we had six artists - Seema C R,, Parul Sinha, Yogesh R., Samanta Raita, Payal Padmanabhan and Anna Dasgupta.
During the workshop we all discussed our initial ideas and shared what we hoped to do during the workshop. As the works progressed, the discussions were resumed at various stages. We brought a selection of interesting illustrated books which were kept in the workshop space for further reading and reference. We also had guest speakers come and speak to us about various related areas such as, region specific rhymes and proverbs, the category of 'children' in children's books, childhood and 'innocence', relationship of text and image in illustrations and dissemination of independently published books.
Pictures from the workshops: Artists developing their works

During the first round of the workshop BlueJackal invited artist and printmaker Shivangi Ladha to give the  participating artists a demonstration of the printing process of etching and drypoint.

First Workshop: Shivangi Ladha demonstrating etching process
For the first workshop we also had an insightful presentation by researcher, writer and activist Anuradha Annanya exploring a layered understanding of childhood from multiple regional locations and perspectives gathered during her research and work in Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. For the second workshop we invited short story writer and activist Rinchin. She read one of her short stories which then opened up an engaging discussion about childhood and about the challenges a short story writer faces while trying to bring the multiple and conflicting experiences of childhood in her writings. For the third workshop we had film maker Anupama Srinivasan screen her film, 'I Wonder'. The film is an attempt to explore how the school system is impacting the lives, thoughts and dreams of children lying at the extremities of the country. All three programs were followed by discussions with the researcher/writer/film maker.
First Workshop: An evening discussion session with the guest speaker Anuradha Annanya
Second Workshop: An evening story reading session and discussion with Rinchin
Third Workshop: Screening of 'I Wonder' followed by discussion with film maker Anupama Srinivasan
The pool of illustrated books we brought for reference during the workshop

About Guest Speakers:

Anuradha Annanya: Anuradha is a theater artist, poet, activist and an educationist. She is currently working with Pratham Education Foundation and lives in Delhi. Anuradha is from Jind, Hariyana. Anuradha is closely and critically engaging with children's literature and recently has finished her research fellowship under India Foundation for The Art. For more details, click here.

Shivangi Ladha: Shivangi is a practicing artist and has done her specialization in MA Printmaking from Royal College of Art, London in 2016. Prior to this, she did MFA (2012 – 14) in Fine Arts from Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts, London and graduated with BFA from College of Art, Delhi University in 2012. Along with the technical knowledge of Print (etching, lithography, screen print) her studio practice also includes research within the broad context of art. To see her work, click here.

Rinchin: Rinchin writes short stories for children as well as for grown-ups and her recent collection of short stories called Ajooba, published by Eklavya is out now. She explores many layers of politics, gender, struggles of everyday lives and love in her stories. Rinchin has been part of many social movements in Chhattisgarh and Madhyapradesh since last two decades and has been working with women and queer groups. She is a member of Ektara Collective. Ektara Collective is an independent, autonomous, non-funded group of people who seek to combine creative efforts and imagination and collaborate with trained and untrained people to make films that are content-wise and aesthetically located in people’s subjective, contextual realities and experiences.

Anupama Srinivasan: Anupama is a freelance filmmaker based in Delhi, India. She did her BA in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University where she took courses in still photography and non-fiction filmmaking. She studied Film Direction at FTII, Pune, and has been making documentaries for the past 16 years on themes like gender, music and education, often shooting and editing her own work. Her films have been screened at many film festivals including 100 Years of Cinema Centenary Festival, Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival, FIPA Biarritz, Mumbai International Film Festival, ImagineIndia Madrid and Kara Filmfest. The documentary ‘Nirnay’ that she co-directed and edited won the Most Innovative Film Award at MIFF 2014. She has been visiting faculty at institutions such as NID Ahmedabad, Ashoka University and SACAC, New Delhi. She was the Festival Director of the IAWRT Asian Women’s Film Festival for three years (2013-15). Filmography: Nirnay (2012, 56min), I Wonder… (70min, 2009), On my Own Again (30min, 2007), On my Own (30min, 2002).

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