Serendipity fest to showcase River Mandovi through archives

The special project ‘Goa Familia: Families are like Rivers’ deals with family and oral history to be showcased at Serendipity Arts Festival
A photograph of River Mandovi.
A photograph of River Mandovi.

From steamer boats to casinos, to clear landscapes to billboards, understand how the capital city, Panjim, changed through the decades through this archival exhibition ‘Goa Familia: Families are like Rivers’ which will be open at the Serendipity Arts Festival from December 15, 2022 to December 23, 2022, at the Old GMC Complex, Panjim.

This special project ‘Goa Familia: Families are like Rivers’ at the Serendipity Arts Festival is headed by independent art historian, Lina Vincent and photographer, Akshay Mahajan.

Lina Vincent and Akshay Mahajan
Lina Vincent and Akshay MahajanPicture Courtesy: Rohan Fernandes.


Explaining the project ‘Goa Familia: Families are like Rivers’, Akshay Mahajan, says "This project is about telling stories through archival photographs and family albums. At the same time listening to oral histories. We are not only dealing with memories of families but also concentrating on the city of Panjim. The city that faces the River Mandovi, which is an integral part of the place.”

So with the River Mandovi in the backdrop, Mahajan says that they are bringing forth the idea of archives. "We want to say that archives are all around us and you just have to look and find them. At the same time, look into how to present these new archives,” he adds.

An archival photograph of Panjim
An archival photograph of Panjim


The project began with a call that went out to the public to share photographs of their families and the River Mandovi. They received around 18 to 20 entries of photographs.

Simultaneously, the team interacted with the locals and prominent people from in and around the city of Panjim to get the oral history. Through the help of oral history and archives they put together an exhibition that is a series of 12 panorama.

"It has archival photographs of every building from Patto to Hotel Mandovi and the river front. We’ve spoken to Luis Dias, Mhamai Kamat, the Ghanekars, etc. We are trying to montage these photographs over the contemporary and modern day Panjim," Mahajan adds.

A photograph of River Mandovi.
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When they received the entries of photographs, they came across various aspects, says Lina Vincent sharing some eye-catching things that she noticed. She says that most of the photographs were of people arriving and leaving Panjim, as the jetty was an important point for the ships.

"We have a photograph of kids, all of them have smeared petroleum jelly because before jumping into the water it was essential to protect themselves in some way," says Vincent.

Mahajan says that one thing that is constant is that in most of the archives, we've found that the balustrade of River Mandovi, was one constant aspect. "We had a photograph that was shared to us where the sender's father was seen seating on the balustrade with a camera," shares Mahajan.

Archival photographs show prominent political figures.
Archival photographs show prominent political figures.


There was a lot of understanding that came about while studying the photographs. "We realised that the kind of traffic that came in changed. Earlier there would be steamer boats but now you can see casinos. Back in those days, there were no billboards but now they are everywhere. Also, people dressed well and posed differently for pictures," Vincent says.

The two mention that people in Panjim dressed well and like today they didn't have the luxury of thousands of photographs but had to click few as the roll of the camera could support around 15 to 20. So people photographed wisely.

A photograph of River Mandovi.
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"These photographs have some mundane aspects of life. We are aware that there is a division of class and caste and only a few could afford the luxury of photographs, so we have tried to keep it real and it is work in progress, as the exhibition is on, we will come across many more stories too," says Vincent.

A collage of various archival photographs that will be displayed at the exhibition.
A collage of various archival photographs that will be displayed at the exhibition.


The idea of the exhibition is also to bring in relevance to archives. Mahajan explains, "One of the key areas of the exhibition is to educate people to give back to these photograph. When we put out the work on Instagram we realised that a lot of youngsters were keen on knowing their ancestors. They were eager to see how Goa's heritage has changed."

A photograph of River Mandovi.
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Besides the exhibition, there will be an in-conversation session that will be related to archiving, looking at personal histories as well as public documentation. It will have speakers such as Clarice Vaz (artist, visual storyteller); Dr Luis Dias (musician, archivist); Vince Costa (filmmaker, storyteller). The session will be Moderated by Goa Familia.

Also, as Mr Baker, one of the oldest and most famous bakery in Panjim is completing 100 years, there will be a sort of cake box that will be created which will have history of the bakery.


WHEN: December 15, 2022 to December 23, 2022

WHERE: Old GMC Complex, Panjim


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