Susmita Mohanty in conversation with Narayan Prasad, Founder, NewSpace India
Listen to the Podcast
2019 Forevermark Forum, Bangalore
Talk theme: Limitless
LIsten to the talk
2019 BBC 100 Women I The Female-led Future
Listen to the interview on BBC Global
Listen to the TED Talk
2015 Presidential Visit, Stockholm
Invited by Embassy of India, Stockholm and Unlimited India to give a talk in Stockholm on the occasion of the first-ever visit of an Indian President to Sweden.
Listen to the Talk
Over the past 20+ years, Susmita has been part of many a photoshoot. Some have been memorable, some fun, others have been daunting with blinding flashlights.
Here’s a photoshoot in Milan that will be remembered fondly by her for years to come. Susmita was interviewed by the then Editor of DOMUS magazine, Joseph Grima. The shoot took place in a beautiful white-bowl-shaped-studio where apparently, the Italians shoot new models of automobiles.
The only other shoot that comes close, experientially, and left Susmita with a sense of ‘wow’, was an autumn shoot in the lobby of the Grand Marina Hotel in Helsinki. The photographer sent by Helsingin Sanomat, the local newspaper, arrived on a bicycle with a camera in a backpack, took a few shots in natural Nordic light, with a telephoto lens. She then disappeared on her bicycle, within minutes of having arrived, and managed to capture some very inspired shots, with no fuss at all. It was magical.
2019 Mo School Caravan, Odisha, India
On invitation of the Chief Minister of Odisha, Susmita Mohanty served as the Chairperson of Mo School from December 2017 – May 2019.
Download her debut year blog to know more about Mo School.
During her tenure, Susmita initiated a Caravan that travelled to the most neglected districts in southern Odisha: Raigada, Kandhamal, and Kalahandi. In partnership with Bakul Foundation and Tata Trusts, a fleet of three vans loaned by Tata Trusts travelled with a curated set of books in Odia, Hindi, English, and ten international animation films curated by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Suresh Eriyat.
A crew of animators, story-tellers, artists, photographers, and volunteers travelled with the vans to 18 schools in remote areas. The aim of the initiative was to encourage storytelling, art and animation filmmaking in remote schools in Odisha. The Caravan was a pilot which the state government can expand to cover all 30 districts of Odisha from Mayurbhanj to Malkangiri.
A Caravan of this nature can bring world-class content to children in remote rural and tribal areas, can bridge the rural-urban divide, stretch the children’s imagination, engage them in fun ways, create a sense of wonder and catalyse creativity.
Watch Caravan video, created by Studio Eeksaurus.
2017 Antarctic Biennale, Antarctica
In the Antarctic (March) autumn of 2017, Susmita went on an Antarctic Expedition onboard the research expedition vessel Akademik Sergey Vavilov, named after a Soviet physicist. This was the first-ever cultural expedition to the icy continent. An art biennale in the icy polar wilderness was the bold dream of Alexander Ponomarev, a contemporary Russian artist, nautical engineer and practiced submariner. He was the Art Commissioner for this Biennale. Quoting Ponomarev:
“I thought up this exhibition as a process, voyage, movement, and self-development. This is a true adventure with unpredictable outcome. We only set development framework with a varied range of ways to go. Artworks can sustain harsh exhibition conditions: they can be dismantled, moved and installed in various locations and contexts. The weather affects installations and performances, and our weather-focused artworks are designed to interact with wind, water, and ice. Artworks of another type are installed onboard and create a theatre of activities while we travel across Antarctica. As a result, the vessel transforms into a moving art venue.”
Susmita’s crew-mates on this unprecedented journey included artists, journalists, writers, inter-disciplinary experts, photographers, filmmakers, divers, a professor-philosopher, and a cyber-security billionaire. It was an eclectic confluence of artists, scientists, thinkers, mavericks in an other-worldly landscape which inspires creativity, provokes human apathy, provides the perfect backdrop that puts the fragility of our home planet in sharp focus, and provides a space for debate about the future of all species in a world plagued by anthropogenic climate change.
Here’s a film that gives a condensed snapshot of the artists and art works that made the trip. Watch the film.
If you want to see more, look up the film “Captain’s Dream – Art Biennale in Antarctica”, by renowned documentary maker Denis Delestrac who was also part of the expedition crew. Watch the trailer.
2001 Arthur Clarke Gala, Los Angeles
In 2001, the Space Frontier Foundation organised the Arthur Clarke Gala in the Playboy Mansion grounds in Los Angeles to celebrate the arrival of the new millennium and Arthur Clarke, the writer of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’.
Clarke was beamed live from Colombo via satellite, as a 3D hologram. Celebrities who attended the Gala included Tom Hanks, James Cameron, Morgan Freeman, and Patrick Stewart - Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek.
Here’s one of two films that MoonFront, Susmita’s San Francisco based consultancy created for the Gala, in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
Watch the film.