Germany and India are celebrating 60 years of diplomatic ties. A series of events have been organized to encourage cooperation in different areas such as technology, culture, ecological protection and business.
Robin Mallick was also in charge of the Dresden Film Festival in 2008
The theme of the Indo-German festival is "City Spaces," with a special focus on the "Mobile Space Metro Tour," a unique tour of seven Indian cities based on collaborative work between Indian and German partners.
Deutsche Welle: Why is this festival focusing on city spaces?
Robin Mallick: "Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities" is not just focusing on culture as the case was during the German festival in India, 2000-2001, but also on business, education, politics and science. We had some talks on a topic which would combine all these different themes, but which would be a specific and central topic for India and the major cities. That is why we arrived at city spaces – all the topics refer to urban development, challenges and improvements.
What exactly do you mean by city spaces?
Everything related to urban development, to challenges in the cities, to mobility – all topics which have to do with urban development in different categories. It also means exploring new spaces in cities, for example public spaces, because these have not been explored extensively, particularly for cultural projects. Some activities in the frame of our event will also happen in public spaces.
Do you think there is a lack of public spaces for such festivals in India?
No, not at all. There is a lot of public space. It’s just a matter of using it. The one thing is to make programs more accessible to as many people as possible and a public space of course would be the best option. On the other hand, there are many more options, for example, public art projects, open air concerts, cinema screenings, tours. Most of these are collaborative projects with Indian and German partners.
What do Germany and India aim to achieve from this partnership?
The aim is to find new and additional impulses for Indo-German friendship and cooperation in different fields and to introduce cooperation in fields which have not been explored.
Which fields do you think have not been explored?
Public art – that is not very common. One example is the project called the Yamuna-Elbe. Yamuna, as you may know is the river in Delhi and the Elbe is the dominant river in Hamburg. There are two curators, one based in Hamburg, one in Delhi and they have invited artists from both countries to create art – installations, sculptures or screenings – and to provide their perspective on and perceptions of the rivers and show their importance for the city. This will be in a new format and hopefully we can make new contacts, since there will be an exchange between people and institutions. We hope this will be a start for new collaboration in the years to come.
Which organizations are you collaborating with for the festival?
There are about 300 projects, so there are hundreds of different institutions and even more individuals. That really depends on the fields. We would like to encourage and introduce a broader spectrum of collaborations. Particularly in the fields of science, business and culture there has been a lot of cooperation for at least 50 years. But still, there are some aspects and some formats which deserve to be further explored.
Germany tends to be more interested in Indian civilization, its folklore and so on. Is this festival also looking at exploring commercial interests?
Like I said, there are different areas. So culture will be one, education will be one and politics another, as well as business, if you can say that business equals commercial activities. That is one part. Ecological cooperation is also one important aspect.
What, according to you, is the image of Germany in India and how do you think it is going to change after the festival?
I think the image as such is quite positive but it is focused around specific things like technology and cars. Then there are some individuals who are very well known, and many Indians have ideas about how a typical German may or may not be, about life, about beer, about Oktoberfest. I think there is a set of associations. Of course one aim would be to broaden the aspects that form the image and to have a larger variety, not only of one image, but lots of different images of contemporary Germany. Goethe-Institut is very happy to have Max Mueller as its name in India. He was and is an important person from the 19th century, and also in the 21st century there is a lot that India and Germany can jointly benefit from.
Robin Mallick is the Programmes Director for South Asia at the Goethe-Institut (Max Mueller Bhavan) in New Delhi and is coordinating the "Germany and India Infinite Opportunities 2011-2012" festival.
Interview: Manasi Gopalakrishnan
Editor: Sarah Berning