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A journey worth the company

Team members with local artists

Team members with local artists  

When Sarojini, an architect, got a message on Instagram from a friend, asking if she would be “interested in travelling with a group of like-minded people to Cambodia,” she wasn’t very thrilled. “Why would I travel with complete strangers?” she asked, until her friend explained that she would be part of an evolving and unique travel community.

Sarojini thus became a part of Dabaki, an unusual travel group that consisted of 16 multi-disciplinary artists who went on a curated journey to Cambodia, where they collaborated with local artists to learn and exchange ideas, ultimately undergoing a transformative cross-cultural convergence. Earlier this year in June, their travel-inspired creations were brought to life in an exclusive showcase in Hyderabad.

“Our journey was curated through four provinces, involving workshops with regional artists and immersions in places of historic significance and cultural relevance,” adds Akhil Reddy Kommidi, the founder.

“The showcase featured films, music, poetry, dance, paintings, photographs and a VR experience highlighting unique stories from Cambodia.”

Art attack A few team members at Cambodia

Art attack A few team members at Cambodia  

What does Dabaki mean? The name is actually a trifecta of sounds: ‘Da’ asks where one is from; ‘Ba’ asks what feeds one’s soul; and ‘Ki’ where we are going. “The aim is to curate culturally immersive travel experiences around the globe, featuring multi-disciplinary artists. That, in turn, will produce engaging content inspired by these experiences. It breeds a community that can bring people together, explore perspectives and ‘inspire magic’. This travel community consists of artists, dreamers and influencers around the world.”

Akhil had more in mind than just a like-minded travel group when he founded Dabaki. The primary idea was “to co-create and share stories inspired by global cultures.” After being with events, Akhil wanted to do art-related events, which never materialised. “During my former professional life, I realised that any artist needs to compromise with the market to be successful.”

This inspired him to shift to art-related events and also education. He then reached out to his friend, Krishna Chaitanya Sunidhi, to be his partner. Akhil still laughs at Krishna’s first reaction but cannot hide his pride that his friend trusted his idea. “It was a huge thing he was looking at in terms of logistics. I didn’t need to be persuaded because the concept convinced me,” adds Krishna.

A painting displayed at the Dabaki showcase in Hyderabad

A painting displayed at the Dabaki showcase in Hyderabad  

Inspiration, collaboration, and actualisation fuel Dabaki. “Our projects and journeys will be built around five focus areas — quality education, biodiversity, water and waste management, holistic health and wellness, and equality and human rights,” explains Akhil.

Triggered by the need to do something beyond taking wedding photos and get excited about an attractive cheque, Akhil decided to start a community that works closely with art and culture and preserving any form of art. “Folk art is dying, so is folklore. Tribal art is hardly seen and some crafts are fast disappearing for the lack of a conducive market. Except for handloom,” points out Akhil. Through this community, he wants to create a platform to revisit cultures, share art forms and build a unique exchange journey.

One of the 16 members in the first group was Akhil’s friend Anuraag Reddy, an amazing artist who gave up being one. “As we travelled along the fields and saw the ruins, I kept asking myself. How will I give back? Then, without even attempting, I found myself painting one day. Some journeys are such that creativity comes from within. With each member either singing, making music or writing poems, the ‘hibernating’ artist in me came out without any pressure.”

What’s next? “Our plan is to journey in the Nilgiris in December,” says Krishna.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2020 1:49:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/dabaki-travel-community-group-of-arstistes-artistes-collective/article25179649.ece

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