Art or Commerce? Swarovski installation

Here is a short interview that I wanted to share that I did just before the opening of Sankalpa, the installation at the Swarovski Crystal Gallery.

Swarovski Installation : Sankalpa by Shekhar Kapur and David Adjaye

This is a picture of the installation that David Adjaye and I created based on the short film I made called Passage in Argentina. The still frame does not give a complete idea of the immersive experience of sound and moving picture that you get once you are in there. The idea is to sense the nature of illusion and of the deconstruction of linear time once in the maze of moving images from different points of view of the same film.
The installation uses ten screens of different luminosity and reflectivity including two screens made of thousands of tiny crystals. Seven projectors are creating reflections at various angles creating half and full images at the same time – and as you get lost in this sound and light show, you see yourself reflected in the image, as well as other visitors.
What you can’t make out quickly is where the other visitors are, and whether you are watching them real through clear glass, or their reflections through the film.
The people at the Swarovski Crystal Palace (where there are works by Dali and Picasso too !) went through a tough time not knowing what the installation would look like, while I kept assuring them I knew exactly what I was doing. The fact was that I did not, but was on an adventure of exploration and discovery !
Both David and I was were taken aback at what we created when we saw it finally as the video projectors were turned on. It took all our breaths away, and we realized the beauty of the art of light and reflection. Because we were creating illusion through that medium, it took hold of itself organically and developed a life of it’s own.

And the sage said to me :

that there is no one definition
of anything –
that it is only the ego
that desires to define
that most pain is caused
by the need to define something,
which, like a whiff of a mist
when u try and catch it,
that as long as we cannot accept the unknown,
the uncertain,
the indefinable,
the infinite,
the duality
life will be a series
of unfulfilled desires
” My conversations with Death”

here and now

if the universe is infinite
wherever it is
and ‘forever’ does exist
wherever it does
then wherever you are
you are forever
whenever you are
you are here, and now
whoever you are
I cannot find
a better way
to say
I love you

Hope floats

Hi Shekhar,
Its extremely moving to see how touched you are by many of the performances on the show that you are judging esp the ones by special children who have such an amazing spirit to overcome challenges despite their special needs. Given that you have made such real , heart wrenching films like Bandit queen I was really moved and surprised to see how emotional you were through the show.
I run an initiative called Towards A Special Cause (TASC) that provides free and voluntary support to various causes ( With a special focus on children with special needs.
Shekhar there are some wonderful and soul stirring performances that I have witnessed by blind, deaf and deaf- blind children and young adults that deserve to reach an audience beyond the premises of their institutions and if there ever was an opportunity to make that happen it would help spread some light and cheer in their world of physical darkness. Vocational training support, specialised education and life skills learning so that they can earn a lively hood and lead a life of dignity and self respect is perhaps the most important aspect of support to a special child and their parents.
We encourage people to spread awareness, volunteer time,
Give money or actual items of use ,
Visit a special school , do anything
Anytime and in whatever way possible to help any cause close to their heart..
I am also taking this opportunity to share that one of the most outstanding live shows I’ve ever seen has been Shiamak’s show with deaf and deaf-blind children of the Helen Keller Institute.
The length of this letter indicates how much I wanted to share after I saw you truly cared .
Hope Floats ,

Judgement and Prejudice on India’s Got Talent

Vishal asked “saw you on television ……just thinking ‘at what point of time in a person’s career or in learning cycle ….a person gets confident enough to judge others?’
Never is the answer to that one Vishal, as there is a very thin line between judgment and prejudice. How can you judge anything except from your own life experience, which colors your own perception of what is good or what is bad ? What should or should not be ? Through the prism of my life experience, that both expands and contracts my world view at the same time, is how I see the world.
Tough to be fair. I try to react to everything emotionally. I try and give myself to the act and allow being entertained. I try to look at it from the performers point of view. I look for the performer’s passion beyond the technical expertise. I look to see if the performance has soul. But what do you do when your own sense of aesthetics is completely different from the performance ? Knowing there is a completely different set of aesthetics inherent in that performance. I often then look to my co judges to see if they tune to that aesthetic and take my cues from them.
Of course there are performances that have no aesthetic at all. I believe most of those performers know that when they are performing, and if they don’t then they should be told that firmly ! I am sure the channel sets them up for us, though.

The Universe has no answers, just questions

“For every body that walks into this blogs for an answer just leaves with 10 other questions.Will you ever walk in search of yourself on the Himalayas..or you just wrote it because it makes sense ?”
Thank you Gaurav for the most searing question.
The Universe is an infinite question. To me, to spiritualists, to scientists, to artists, to philosophers, to you and all of us that come to our blog. In fact to anyone that is honest and in search of the truth. Each single answer is a false truth unless it raises many many more questions. In the yearning for answers lies the quest for spirituality and truth, not in the finding of answers.
Unfortunately my mind, my Ego, looks for definiteness. It tries to define everything by confining everything. It cannot accept that a million truths can exist in complete contradiction of each other. There is no one true God. There is no one great truth. The Divine is a sum of all imagination, of all perception and of all eternity.
Till we stop looking for finite answers to explain the infinite, the only truth is the quest for truth. There is no finite answer, just as there is no one question. The yearning is to finally merge with infinite without questioning, without analysis. Meanwhile I battle my ego to stop it from settling into a finite ‘code’ of perception. That battle is expressed and shared in this blog.
And will I ever go to the Himalaya’s in search of that merging ? Am I not ‘traveling’ the Himalaya’s as we speak ? Or am I just fooling myself, and driving everyone else into some kind of intellectual escape from reality. Don’t think that I do not ask myself these questions every day, all the time. Not allowing my mind even to settle and find solace in this argument. The Ego is clever. It will seduce me by intellectualism too.
A question, Gaurav. Just keep questioning. Refusing to settle for answers, any one answer.

Attention seeking

We spend our lives trying to get attention and loving it. Getting attention is what provokes people, creates relationships and also destroys relationships. At some levels the ego is propelled to do greater things while it seeks attention. But at other levels, for so many of us attention seeking becomes an obsession. Therefore self-destructive. You can’t spend your life seeking affirmation through other people’s eyes. More often than not this leads to a loss of self-worth with all its associated problems.
I spent many years of my life as a young man in wonderful adventures, but also in “Vanity” about myself. I often look back at my life and wonder how many beautiful relationships I missed out on, how many great adventures I did not give myself to, because of my own vanity or the need to seek attention.
But better late than never, I am on a different path now as I realize that the greatest adventure of all, the greatest potential relationships of all, the greatest love of all, lies in what’s given. Not in what is received.
Not because of some great “altruistic” or “selfless” illusion of myself. But because the greatest adventure of all lies in seeing yourself not as an individual drop, but as the ocean. To lose my sense of individuality. To lose that which is “Shekhar Kapur” the individual allows me to lose “me.” I am not saying that I am there yet. My ego still carries too many remanents of the past. Past desires, past aspiratons and past insecurities. But I’ve made a start.
Everyday, for a part of the day I argue against my own ego to remind myself of the greatest illusion of all.
My individuality.

India prays for rain as the water wars break out

The monsoon is late, the wells are running dry and in the teeming city of Bhopal, water supply is now a deadly issue. Gethin Chamberlain reports
Gethin Chamberlain
Sunday, 12 July 2009
A young man walks across Bhopal’s Upper Lake, which has shrunk to an 8th of its original area.
It was a little after 8pm when the water started flowing through the pipe running beneath the dirt streets of Bhopal’s Sanjay Nagar slum. After days without a drop of water, the Malviya family were the first to reach the hole they had drilled in the pipe, filling what containers they had as quickly as they could. Within minutes, three of them were dead, hacked to death by angry neighbours who accused them of stealing water.
In Bhopal, and across much of northern India, a late monsoon and the driest June for 83 years are exacerbating the effects of a widespread drought and setting neighbour against neighbour in a desperate fight for survival.
India’s vast farming economy is on the verge of crisis. The lack of rain has hit northern areas most, but even in Mumbai, which has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, authorities were forced to cut the water supply by 30% last week as levels in the lakes serving the city ran perilously low.
Across the country, from Gujarat to Hyderabad, in Andhra Pradesh, the state that claims to be “the rice bowl of India”, special prayers have been held for more rain after cumulative monsoon season figures fell 43% below average.
On Friday, India’s agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, said the country was facing a drought-like situation that was a “matter for concern”, with serious problems developing in states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
In Bhopal, which bills itself as the City of Lakes, patience is already at breaking point. The largest lake, the 1,000-year-old, man-made Upper Lake, had reduced in size from 38 sq km to 5 sq km by the start of last week.
The population of 1.8 million has been rationed to 30 minutes of water supply every other day since October. That became one day in three as the monsoon failed to materialise. In nearby Indore the ration is half an hour’s supply every seven days.
The UN has warned for many years that water shortages will become one of the most pressing problems on the planet over the coming decades, with one report estimating that four billion people will be affected by 2050. What is happening in India, which has too many people in places where there is not enough water, is a foretaste of what is to come……

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Money cannot be eaten

“Only after the last tree has been cut down.
Only after the last river has been poisoned.
Only after the last fish has been caught.
Only then will you find that
money cannot be eaten”.
Prophecy of the Cree Native American Tribe
Thank you, ratna