Orientation: Hamzanama - Adventures of Amir Hamza

Course Mentors:  Apurva Talpade, Kausik Mukopadhyay, Prasad Shetty, Tamal Mitra, Vastavikta Bhagat

This course is conducted over 2 weeks and has three broad objectives:

1. To engage with the world of ideas: At SEA, interrogation of existing ideas is considered to be the first step in any creative process. With this objective, the students are encouraged to do two activities - first, to interrogate all ideas and values that have shaped their lives ( ideas like family, religion, nationality and beauty); and second, to explore new ideas and values to rethink the world. While the first activity of interrogation is through intense conversations and discussions of different philosophical traditions; the second activity of exploration is undertaken by setting up provocations for students to respond to. This provocation is to create objects / spaces that have unusual ambitions: like making earthworms dance, growing an unending beanstalk, doing impossible tasks etc. Once the provocation is made, then students and teachers explore the ideas using historical / personal associations, through dismantling the provocations into smaller parts, and using metaphors to think about the object and spaces.

2. To make friends: SEA values the idea of being respectful to one another as one of the most important things that shapes society. Students come from different places, different social and economical strata, speak different languages, have different worldviews and orientations, eat different food, and follow different values. The aim is to enable an understanding of each other and find ways of respecting each other's ways of doing things. We do not expect any resolution of differences, but the aim is to find ways in which one can live and actively engage with one another with all the differences intact. During the orientation workshop, students are formed into groups and constantly challenged as a group. When challenged as a group, solidarities are built as there is a need to unite and share. These solidarities are crucial in not only imagining new spaces but also to create tolerant and culturally sustainable societies.

3. To do things by oneself: Two things are very important for SEA in thinking about doing things by oneself: first, a respect and compassion for all kinds of work; and second, a confidence for doing one’s work by oneself. This is expected to make society not only self-reliant, but also dignified. The confidence that one can do one’s work themselves is not only a capacitating act, but also an empowering act - materially and intellectually. Students are pushed to build the objects / spaces themselves from the sourcing of material to reworking, including a spectrum of building activities. Through all of this, it is important that students also interrogate their lives where many things come to them through the works and labour of others.

This year the orientation week focused on capturing the experiences in the readings of the book Hamzanama : Adventures of Amir Hamza, led to experential drawings that could evoke emotions and awaken the senses of the viewer.