Sunday, September 16, 2007

13 September 2007: Singing the Scrolls

The second MAKE ART/STOP AIDS project involves traditional scroll painters (patuas) of the village Naya in West Bengal. In this art form, not only are stories painted on scrolls, but they are sung as the scroll is rolled to show subsequent panels. The patuas began a few years ago to use their scrolls to educate people about HIV/AIDS, and as part of MA/SA they work in conjunction with community health workers to increase awareness and decrease stigma around HIV/AIDS. Today we traveled to Naya, located more than 100km from Kolkata, to film 5 patuas singing 8 different scrolls. These video documents will be used to complement the display of the scrolls in an upcoming international MA/SA exhibition that opens at the Fowler Museum at UCLA in 2008, and which will subsequently travel to Mexico City for the biannual AIDS conference, Brazil, South Africa, and India. Having heard a lot about the patuas and their scrolls, I was excited to meet them in person and see them perform. Each of them has their own painting, composition, and singing style, which was fascinating to see.

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