City Scripts: A virtual event by IIHS that explores how 2020 pushed our boundaries

The annual urban writings festival is going virtual this year, and features workshops, panel discussions, photo exhibitions, virtual walks and more.
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“The last year was crazy for us all. It challenged out mental health, ideas of space, and home… That's the theme we decided to explore: looking back at 2020,” says Rekha Raghunathan, Lead - Word Lab and Library, at the Indian Institute of Human Settlements (IIHS), Bengaluru, while talking about the sixth edition of City Scripts. The programme is an annual event, and like most things in the last year, has decided to go entirely virtual. It will take place from February 25 to 28 this year and has participants from Africa, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and the US.

Like its previous editions, City Scripts 2020 will have panel discussions, but will also have workshops as well as virtual walks and tours. Organised in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan and the Danish Cultural Institute, City Scripts’ schedule reveals a mosaic of topics being covered – from comic book workshops, to virtual library walks, to photo exhibitions, and even the rather intriguing audio guided tour of Lodhi Gardens in Delhi.

“We are trying to do a mix of things this year. There is a workshop on climate reporting in Kannada, Tamil and English, for instance. The IIHS library is usually central to our events, but this year, since we have not opened the institute up to public due to COVID-19 protocols for avoiding crowding, the virtual tours will be accompanied by interactions with archivists and librarians,” Rekha says.

City Scripts 2020 does indeed include virtual libraries and archive walks of the IIHS Library, IISC Archives, Madras Literary Society and IFA Archives, Dokk1 Public Library and Cultural Centre in Denmark, as well as photo and art exhibitions. Rekha explains that while some of these may involve pre-recorded videos and films followed by discussions over Zoom later on, others could be more interactive tours depending on the technology that organisers and artists have at hand.

“For instance, Lodi Gardens audio guide discussion on February 27 will have the release of the audio guide – which paints a soundscape of the garden with ambient sound etc. – earlier in the day. People can explore the garden through that. And later, there will be an online discussion and interaction with the people who put the guide together,” Rekha says.

There are also discussions on poetry as well as mental health during the last year, as well as playback theatre, which is an interactive form of theatre that has been adapted to the virtual medium. You can find the full schedule below and sign up for City Scripts here.

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