By Farah Ahmed
A very literal translation of “Katti Hivvaru” is impetus, or a sudden burst of energy. It is a phrase that is often used by adults when describing young folks with too much energy who does spur-of-the-moment things. But as of recently, whenever I hear this very eloquent Dhivehi phrase I have begun associating it with ‘art’.
‘Katti Hivvaru Fest’ (KHF) is an annual youth festival organised by Dhi Youth Movement (DYM) for up and coming artists. The festival aims to provide young artists with a platform to showcase their art and to give them exposure while also empowering the youth and highlighting their entrepreneurship skills and talents.
The first KHF was held in 2012; however, back then, the focus was more on exhibiting NGOs and ‘bodu beru’. Another KHF was held in 2014, but this time the focus was on exhibiting the works of artists, musicians, designers, painters and photographers. Prior to KHF, there were no events in the Maldives that was solely devoted to promoting artists and empowering the youth. In 2014, KHF sold over 4000 entrance tickets in the course of two days.
“After O’Levels a lot of people have nothing to do, so DYM wanted to provide them with an opportunity to become involved and contribute meaningfully to the community,” Isha Afeef, the president of DYM said.
“One of the main goals of KHF is to get youth away from disruptive behaviour and to counter violent extremism through providing them with a platform to show their work. Male’ atmosphere puts the youth in a vegetative state – we’re trying to wake them up.”
Manal, a well-established local DJ, who was a participant in 2014’s KHF and is now one of the co-people involved in the organising the festival explained another important objective of KHF – artists working in a collaborative space.
“The response at KHF 2014 – the energy of everyone involved was amazing. We see artists working in a shared space a lot, but we rarely see artists supporting each other. When I was young, there was nobody to push me or encourage me to pursue my passions – so I thought this should start with my generation. The main objective is to share, collaborate and learn; which will ultimately help everyone involved.”
KHF 2015 is slightly different. The concept of “collaborative space” is so well developed that if anything you see inspires you, you get the opportunity to work with the artists and create your own art.
“The artists will be there, providing support if you want to start something – you can talk to them and they can guide you and help you start something. So we’re hoping that people will see things they didn’t see on the first day, on the final days of the event,” Isha explained.
Furthermore, this year KHF will be introducing an alternate stage where everybody is welcome to jam with musicians. Extraordinary local talents such as Mooshan and Appi from 1984 are due to perform at KHF this year. People who attend the event will potentially get the opportunity to learn from well-established musicians in the country.
One aspect of KHF 2015 that really piqued my interest was the names given to the different elements of the festival. There are six elements in KHF 2015 where different genres of art are exhibited. “Kulain” is the fine arts gallery where photographers and artists display their work; “Maarukeytu” is the handicrafts hub; “Ekolanda Gala Arena” is the main stage situated in Sultan Park where musicians will be performing; “Akurufoshi” is the alternate stage where event-goers get to jam with the musicians; “Psy-Key” is a pop-up art gallery created in association with Maldives Psychedelic Arts (MPA) and finally “Baivaru Baiveringe Baiverivun” where NGOs are represented. KHF 2015 boasts a very wide range of artistic genres with works of over 100 local artists.
The theme of this year’s KHF – “Hoadha ma hoadhaa” – is also an excellent example of the creative genius of the local artists. The title is a play on words of a famous Dhivehi song, and it translates to ‘find yourself.’ “Come here and find yourself and explore what makes you, and try to ground yourself more in reality,” is Isha’s advice to everyone who will be attending the event.
When I visited the National Art Gallery in capital Male, I also got the opportunity to speak to some of the artists who will be exhibiting their work at the festival this year. Sarah, who is only 15, will be inaugurating her work for the first time at KHF.
“I’m really nervous because this will be first time I’ll be putting my work out there,” she said.
“I am not great with spoken words, it has always been easier for to express myself in writing. So I am nervous about the public perception, and how it is going to be received, it’s kind of a big deal,” she said.
Sotti, a well-known photographer who is a newcomer to KHF also spoke about what he wants to achieve from KHF.
“I want feedback from the people who visit. In Maldives, people are not that supportive of artists, so we really appreciate what the DYM team is doing. I think this is the only event in the Maldives where this many artists are brought to a single platform to show everybody’s talents.”
“The ultimate goal is to have these people inspire each other and to know that art isn’t an elitist thing – everybody can explore their talents – there is a platform you can show your art – KHF is an event organised by the youth, for the youth,” the president of DYM said.
KHF will be held from December 2nd to December 6th. Isha explained that they would not be having a chief-guest to open the event. Instead, a few children from the care society will inaugurate the event this year. Also this year, the main sponsor of the event is the German Embassy and this will be the first time that the Embassy will be sponsoring an event in the Maldives.
Manal summed up the gist of KHF very well: “[People] are like trees. Some trees blossom upward effortlessly, whilst others remain still – they’re not dead, they’re just rooting down. But when they blossom, they blossom well. What we’re doing here is, we’re making a garden – Katti Hivvaru is a garden. And we are just the fertilisers that help the garden grow.”
December 3, 2015