From the steps of Jama Masjid, the scene that unfurls is a blur of colour. Boys playing an intense game of cricket, a sole blue kite wandering the expanses of the sky, bright buildings huddled together, the distant cacophony of horns…
A second later, silence takes over as we follow the course of a dry river bed in Alice Springs, Australia, followed by lush meadows, cattle and the imposing Alps in Austria.
So, where to next? Goethe Institut Max Mueller Bhavan’s latest project Graphic Travelogues, takes viewers on a journey around the world.
The website has an interactive map of the world, with little images, marking the cities that are ready with works of comic artists. This includes sketches, graphic novels, graphic diaries and illustrations. There are works of 18 artists to choose from now, spread across Delhi, Bengaluru, Cairo, Havana and Istanbul among others.
Casablanca by Calle Claus
“Goethe Institut, all over the world, works with different art forms; one of them is visual arts and graphic novels,” says Thomas Meyer, (director of Information Services, Region South Asia, Goethe-Institut), adding, “Sometimes we do residencies with comic artists and notice that their travel experiences resonate in their comics. We thought it’s such a nice collection and wanted to make that visible.”
Though these are illustrations, you can almost hear the sounds and smell the air of the location depicted. For example, the jalebis on the streets of Delhi, or the fresh popcorn and salty scent of the sea in Casablanca.
Toggling between cities in different countries also highlights similarities that some of them share. Some could be clichés, and some eyeopeners. It is entirely the perspective of the artist, what he/she sees, experiences and imbibes from a place or a scene.
While photography is mostly associated with travelogues, Thomas said their research found there is potential for “travelling through comics”. “This art form adds a new perspective. Though you can depict a lot of things in photographs, it is a moment in time. But in a comic, there can be multiple perspectives and you can add text to it,” says Thomas.
The website also lists categories such as Everyday Heroes, City Explorers, Seekers of Meaning, Adventurers and Gourmets, to draw in different types of travellers and pique their interest. “Travel is an important factor. COVID-19 has changed it,” says Thomas, adding, “It is interesting to see how art in graphic travelogues copes with this phenomena of travelling.”
“Our target groups are people interested in travelling and comics. Through this we are providing them with the possibility of discovering new places even when they are not able to leave their couch,” he says.
There are works from artists from around the globe: Germany, Russia, India. The idea was to have a global perspective and showcase a variety of styles and countries.
STheir social media pages are also active with artists giving a peek into how graphic novels are developed.
For details, log on to http://www.goethe.de/india/