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artist disciples of Goddess Yellamma singing and playing traditional instruments
Captured by Xavier Santhosh in Saundatti, Belgaum (2018)

Rediscovering and reintroducing various folk art forms to the world

The scope of Urban Folk Project’s efforts involve the identification, creation, and curation of folk content through research and learning, documentation, experimentation, and archival. The folk content we showcase includes documentary films, theatre productions, lecture demonstrations, workshops, seminars, and other audio-visual content. The material we work with is a collation of insights from academic history, archives, and most importantly, the experiences we’ve gained while working with individuals exposed to different cultural and economic backgrounds.

Adithya Kothakota and Shilpa Mudbi Kothakota documenting a thamte performance
Captured by Alexandra de Heering at Mandya, Karnataka (2018)

An open collective comprising a group of individuals passionate about folk art.

With the common goal of rediscovering and bringing to the fore various lesser-known folk art forms, Urban Folk Project (UFP) was started by Shilpa Mudbi Kothakota, (theatre practitioner and filmmaker) and Adithya Kothakota (ex-corporate and amateur musician) in the year 2017. Now joined by Asim Siddiqui (philosopher and social worker), and Poornima Kumar (youth worker and researcher), the collective is an open platform to enable other passionate and interested individuals to reach out to the depths of the untapped folk art world and harness the goodness of folk knowledge systems. 

Team UFP singing at Cubbon Park
Captured by Anahitha Anand in Cubbon Park, Bangalore (2018)

Constantly on the look-out for performative folk practices 

We identify, follow, and learn from folk artists from across the country. By exploring the lives of these artists through their connections with family and community, we aim to disseminate valuable ideas from their folk knowledge system that resonates with the ‘now’. Through the curation of all our experiences and the collected folk material, we produce content that resonates with current issues, local needs, and global concerns. 

Presently, all the material we’ve collected from the field has been transcripted and taught to interested participants through free classes at Cubbon Park, Bangalore. We also conduct workshops on performance arts relating to folk music and theatre to help people gain a new lens with which to view folk material.

Radhabai Maadar, chowdki artist, in conversation with UFP
Captured by Adithya Kothakota in Kokatnur, Karnataka (2017)

There is immense value for the present world to draw from cultures that are rooted in the land and its people.

A closer look at the way voices, languages, movements, and music are used in folk practice allows us a clear view of the structures of social hierarchy. It also enables us to examine the unique representation of the voice of the community that is emerging from the margins.

Our aim is democratic in its spirit; we look to meaningfully engage and co-exist with forms that exhibit aesthetic impulses ‘other’ than our own. In the process of such engagement, we learn:  how and why the ‘other’ is different from us, and the common grounds that we share. At UFP, we believe in creating art by using what we know and exploring the connections that can be drawn by bringing together folk and the other so-called contemporary forms. 

What we aim to do

  • Re-imagine and re-enforce the understanding of folk as contemporary
  • Bridge artistic communities to strengthen the future of folk knowledge systems 
  • Create a channel for exchange of ideas and practices between the different folk worlds and ours
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