The Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation (SSAF) and Asia Art Archive in India (AAA-I) are pleased to present a public talk and discussion with Pankti Desai, the 2020 recipient of the SSAF–AAA Research Grant for Histories of Ideas, Art Writing, and Visual Culture.

The SSAF–AAA Research Grant, offered annually since 2018, fosters the development of innovative methodologies to identify, document, research, and annotate print visual materials from India that are inaccessible in the public domain.

For this public presentation, Desai explores three little magazines: Zreaygh (Re) (1963–64), Kriti (1966–72), and Unmoolan (1967–68), to shed light on their role as agents of interrogation in the sociocultural landscape of Gujarat. She situates their emergence within the flourishing little magazine movement in Gujarat from the 1960s to the 1980s, which was primarily centred in Ahmedabad, Baroda, Mumbai, and Surat. These little magazines served not only as crucial platforms for both influential Gujarati poets and renowned visual artists, but also significantly shaped the articulation of identities among marginalised groups, most notably women and Dalits. Despite their profound impact, the significance of little magazines was often disregarded, especially within the precincts of Gujarati literary academia.

It is against this backdrop that Desai explores how magazines like Zreaygh (Re) reshaped the very fabric of Gujarati cultural identity. Originating around 1962, the movement carried a provocative nature that often resulted in it being unexamined or misunderstood. However, these little magazines provided spaces for the unfettered expression of creativity and the dissemination of poetry, provoking an in-depth inquiry into their position within the broader context of power dynamics and established societal structures and mores. Zreaygh emerged as a potent force challenging established discourses and narratives surrounding nation and culture through various means, from format and appearance to content. This was a collective effort that brought together many notable poets and writers, including Labhshankar Thakar, Adil Mansuri, Chinu Modi, Prabodh Parikh, Manhar Modi, Ravji Patel, and Manilal Desai, among others.

The presentation will explore oral histories while delving into the intricacies of collecting primary sources, establishing an archive, and creating a bibliography. It will analyse the sociopolitical and cultural context underlying the Zreaygh movement, by examining its content-related and visual aspects. Ultimately, it will uncover the profound significance of the movement’s efforts in reshaping cultural paradigms.

The presentation will be held online on Tue, 5 Sept 2023, from 5:30–7pm IST (8–9:30pm HKT) via Zoom. Poet, writer, artist, and educator Prabodh Parikh will lead the discussion.

The presentation is free and open to the public with registration.

Dr Pankti Desai currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Humanities Department at Government Engineering College, Valsad, Gujarat. She received her PhD from SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, in 2015 for her thesis, “A Study of Modernist Indian English Poets: Arun Kolatkar and Dilip Chitre.” Desai’s research interests include modernist practices, translation studies, comparative literature, and literary historiography, among others. In 2020, she received the SSAF-AAA Research Grant for her project that explored the Zreaygh (Re) Math little magazines in Gujarat. She was also the 2020–21 recipient for the Grant for the Arts Research program at the India Foundation for the Arts, Bangalore (IFA).

Prabodh Parikh is a poet, short fiction writer, visual artist, philosopher, and educator based in Mumbai. He taught Philosophy at Mithibai College, Mumbai, for thirty years, retiring as the Head of the Department in 2005. He has been Director of the Katha Centre for Film Studies in Mumbai since 2006, and is also currently Faculty-in-Charge, International Art, Literature and Culture at Whistling Woods International. He has served on various national juries in literature and film, and delivered talks, lectures, and seminars on a wide range of themes both nationally and internationally. He is preparing a forthcoming Tagore Reader for the Indira Gandhi National Open University which will be published in twenty-four Indian languages. His published works in English and Gujarati have been translated into other Indian languages as well.