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Conceptualized by Premjish Achari

A curatorial residency programme in collaboration between MGM Foundation and BEADS

Odisha Craft Odyssey Residency - Bell metal

Curatorial Vision of the Residency Programme

The great divide between fine arts and crafts has impacted art pedagogy, exhibition practices, and art practice. This binary has long-lasting impacts not only in the cultural realm but also in our understanding of craft practices. The dichotomy between arts and crafts has been settled as part of colonial art education. While the nationalist response was to reclaim the arts of the past and monuments, a discourse around the craft practices was developed that was protective, leading to an inferior status. This was also reflected later in the post-colonial government policies in India.

Even though contemporary art practitioners have appropriated craft practices, they erase the cultural contexts of these practices. Apart from a lack of acknowledgment by the artists, the curatorial spaces mostly ignore these artifacts. This project aims to interrogate and blur these hierarchical categories, promoting an integrated approach that includes craft practices in both academic and exhibition spaces.

The curatorial vision aims to foster an inclusive cultural landscape that recognizes and celebrates the artistic value of craft. This edition focuses on the bell metal workers of Odisha, a community with a rich heritage of metalworking that is deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of Odisha.

Who can apply in this Residency Programme?

  • Practitioners from the field of Contemporary Art, Design, and writers from the field of Research
  • The applicant must be an Indian National.
  • There is no age limit to the applicants.

Structure of the Residency Programme

The selected Contemporary Artists, Designers and the Researcher will be engaging with the intricate processes, techniques, and tools of bell metalworking in Odisha during their residency period.

Phase I: Working with the bell metal artisans

  • Duration: 20 days.
  • Accommodation: Accommodation will be provided close to the craft cluster with access to a studio space at site.
  • Food: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner will be provided at site.
  • Curatorial and local assistance: A member from the OCO curatorial team and the BEADS team will be present at site to support the residents.

Phase II: Working in Bhubaneswar for developing each resident’s projects for the Open-Day event at Bhubaneswar.

Note: This includes conceptualization of the project display and relevant productions required for each resident in relation to their research and project proposal.

  • Duration: 10 days
  • Accommodation: Accommodation will be provided at Bhubaneswar with access to creative spaces as per the demands of the final Open Day display
  • Food: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner will be taken care of.

Number of residents to be selected for the programme:

  1. 2 residents from the field of Contemporary Art or Design
  2. 1 resident from the field of writing and research

 What the residents will get

  1. Round trip airfare to Bhubaneswar
  2. Travel support to Craft Cluster and movements in Bhubaneswar.
  3. Food and Accommodation
  4. An honorarium of INR 25,000 for the Residency Programme to resident
  5. A production budget of INR 10,000 to realize the project.

How to Apply for the Residency Programme

Kindly share your application with the requirements mentioned:

  • A project proposal, outlining the scope of research and inquiry the residents would like to engage with, while working with the Bell Metal artisans (not more than 500 words)
    Note: The language for writing the proposal can be either Odia or English
  • A selection of works relevant to the proposal (Minimum 5 works and Maximum 10 works) or published writings (minimum 2), showing the research areas the researcher has been interested in.
  • Concept note on your practice (not more than 300 words)
  • Updated Resume (not more than 2 pages)

The application must be sent as single pdf file along the cover letter to with the subject line: “Applicant’s Name, OCO Residency Programme – 2024.”

Residency Period: 8th August – 9th September 2024
Deadline of the Open Call: 10th July 2024

Expectations and deliverables from the Residents

Through this project, we would like to:

  • Unravel the Making: Focus on the intricate processes, techniques, and tools of bell metalworking.
  • Social and Caste Dynamics: Explore the social relations and caste status associated with bell metal artisans, placing these dynamics within broader cultural and economic contexts.
  • Integrated Exhibition Practices: Present craft practices alongside contemporary art to dissolve the binary between art and craft, encouraging a holistic appreciation of both.
  • Ethnographic surveys: One of the essential methods of this project is to engage in ethnographic surveys of the craft clusters of Odisha. In the inaugural edition, we will engage with bell metal workers of Odisha.

Ethnographic Research and Engagement

Ethnographic research is at the heart of this project, ensuring a deep, respectful, and meaningful engagement with the bell metal community. Researchers, artists, and designers will:

  • Document Practices: Record detailed observations of bell metal artifacts’ metalworking processes, techniques, and cultural significance.
  • Prepare Field Notes: Maintain comprehensive field notes to capture daily interactions, insights, and reflections.
  • Collaborate Closely: Work closely with the artisans, ensuring an equal exchange of knowledge and skills.
  • Amplify Voices: Provide a platform for the artisans to share their stories, challenges, and perspectives.

By engaging deeply with the bell metal artisans of Bhubaneswar, we aim to:

  • Highlight Craft Practices: Elevate the status of bell metal craftsmanship by showcasing its artistic and cultural significance.
  • Foster Cultural Inclusion: Ensure that craft practices are recognized as vital cultural heritage and history components.
  • Promote Sustainability: Support craft communities’ economic and social sustainability through innovative artistic and design interventions.

Guidelines for Researchers

Artists/Researchers participating in this project are expected to adhere to the following guidelines to ensure respectful and effective engagement:

  1. Respect and Sensitivity: Approach the community with respect and cultural sensitivity, recognizing the artisans’ expertise and heritage.
  2. Ethical Engagement: Ensure ethical research practices, including obtaining informed consent for documentation and publication.
  3. Daily Documentation: Maintain a daily journal of interactions, observations, and reflections, capturing the nuances of the craft and community life.
  4. Collaborative Projects: Develop collaborative projects with the artisans that highlight their skills and create new artistic expressions.
  5. Open Communication: Engage in open and continuous communication with the artisans, fostering mutual trust and understanding.
  6. Transparency: Be transparent about the aims, processes, and outcomes of the research, ensuring the community understands and benefits from the engagement.

Key Dates

  • Announcement of the Residency Open Call: 15 June 2024
  • Deadline of the Residency Open Call: 10 July 2024
  • Selection of the residents by the jury: 15 July- 25 July 2024
  • Email to the selected residents: 25 July – 30 July 2024
  • Residency Period: 8 August 2024 – 9 September 2024
  • Open Day Event: 7 September 2024


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