moumita kundu reports on an art-oriented seminar at Burdwan University
VERY recently, Burdwan University&’s Department of English organised a seminar under the University Grants Commission&’s Departmental Research Support, which was coordinated by Professor Deb Narayan Bandhopadhyay and inaugurated by vice-chancellor Smritikumar Sarkar.
   Two renowned professors from the University of Louisville — Kiki Petrosino, Department of English —  and Phillip Miller, Hite Art Institute, attended the event, where the former spoke about her desire and literary life and offered a presentation, “Stride the Wreckage”. With many citations and quotations, she tried to put forward her theories on desire and constant striving towards its fulfillment.
   She said, “When you want impossible things, that is the beginning of desire,” and explained how this desire could be met through literary activity, for example poetry. She read some poems from her collection, Fort Red Border, and put it across that anxiety — which stemmed from the tension between desire and its fulfillment — could be alleviated by poetry. It is true that creative practice or literary engagements can shield us from spiritual disintegration that the present day lifestyle brings in its wake.
   Miller&’s presentation, “Necessary Action”, dealt with the innovative concept of making art an integral part of life and using it to re-energise one&’s faculties. Being well-versed with the Bhagawad Gita, he tried to link Western art with traditional Indian philosophies, citing the holy scriptures as and when required.
   The secret of form was formless  — a philosophy he demonstrated with the stupendously novel idea of a scroll which he painted, frame by frame, in terms of lunar cycle movements. According to him, this art form is replicatory of the fragmented nature of life itself. He echoed Heinrich Robert Zimmer&’s philosophy that art was not part of life but was life itself — something he not only professed but practised. This is also revealed in his sketchbook where he has worked with patterns of lines and made forms emanate from three-dimensional figures, linear outlines and geometric patterns. The intricacy of these sketches was extremely thought-provoking. Everyone at the seminar witnessed varying degrees of creativity — from poetry to painting.