In the Name of the Goddess: The Durga Pujas of Contemporary Kolkata
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Director of Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata
This book unravels the anatomy of the newly-conjured ‘art’ event of Kolkata’s Durga Pujas by tracking the new production processes, the mounting trends of publicity and sponsorship as well as the practices of mass spectatorship that make for the transformed visual culture of the festival. The book’s central concern lies in conceptualizing a contemporary and artistic history of this urban festival. It examines the diversity of images and practices – from the consumerist spectacle and the bonanza of awards to the efflorescence of public installations and art and craft productions – that unfurl in this season ‘in the name of the goddess’. While profiling Durga Pujas as Kolkata’s biggest public art event, the book also addresses the ambivalence of the designations of ‘art’ and ‘artist’ in this field of production and viewership. The new artistic nomenclature of the festival, it is shown, is not easily secured, and has to struggle to assert itself within the body of the religious event and the ephemeral mass spectacle.
‘Beautiful the book certainly is – shaped, sized, priced, and in looks as it is like a coffee table book – with glossy pages, a wonderfully designed dust jacket, and almost five hundred full-col our photographs, and yet it is not your usual coffee table book: it is a massively researched academic work – replete as it is with all the formal trappings of such a work, with elaborate endnotes, glossary, bibliography and index.’
Sugata Bhaduri, The Book Review
‘As Tapati walks us through the streets of Kolkata in her 10-year research of its biggest celebration, she interviews artists and artisans, designers and decorators, pandal makers and politicians to compile a veritable album of rare photographs and lively anecdotes of the sarbo-jonin sharadotsav. ’
Ajanta Dutt, The Asian Age