In Bengaluru, homes now open doors to artists

Bengalureans are redefining the idea of art spaces by hosting art events and performances in their homes

Theatre practitioner Anuradha HR reminisces a time when her mother would peel kadale kayi (ground nuts) at home, an activity over which the neighbourhood would gather and discuss a range of issues, from the political to the personal. The transformation of the city, however, has led to the shrinking of such gatherings. The arts, tries to fill this gap. Despite competition from commercially viable modes of entertainment, such as films, artists have brought communities together. One way is by opening their homes as arts and performances spaces. This is not a new phenomenon or ‘trend’, as artist, curator, and writer, Chinar Shah says: “ Spaces such as this have existed. Artists all over the world have created alternative spaces for themselves. That is probably how many big artists started. I think we take not only inspiration from that history, but we are also part of that history.”

In Bengaluru, homes now open doors to artists

That said, there has been an increase in the number of intimate spaces since 2015. Take a walk down JP Nagar III Phase, and there are three spaces within walking distance of each other — Jagali561, Untitled Space, and Walkin Studios.

Jagali561, started 14 months ago by Saraswathi Anand, Arjun Swaminathan, Nitesh Aggarwal and Madhavi Aggarwal, is a beautiful 600 square metre drawing room space. A flight of stairs leads upto Jagali, which is the home of Saraswathi and Arjun. It is spacious with wooden flooring and a traditional swing. One part of the wall is painted red with masks displayed. “When we were children,” recalls Saraswathi, “performances used to happen in temple compounds. Now such performances are few and far between. The established auditoriums are either too far or too formal.” Jagali, which means the space in front of village houses, was set up to provide families to engage with the arts. “Even though there are children-centric performances in the city, parents don’t feel as engaged; they just play along. The four of us began sharing concerns as parents of how we want to expose our children to meaningful art while also enjoying performances ourselves,” says Saraswathi.

Jagali hosts a show a month. Nitesh explains how this makes logistical sense. “All of us have day jobs, so to organise many performances can get challenging. Jagali is not a commercial venture. We wanted to reach out to our respective circles.” The shows are non-ticketed. “We pass a hat around where you can contribute,” explains Saraswathi. “At Jagali, we provide an experience, not a service. If we had ticketed our events, people would expect a delivery service, because that is what they are used to. Jagali is simple and earthy.”

Jagali has hosted every kind of performance, from musical events to storytelling. The children of the founders, Kabir Aggarwal, and twins Raaga and Swara Swaminathan, who are eight and nine years, chime in: “We liked Vikram Sridhar’s and Akshay Gandhi’s performances!”

Anuradha, who started Untitled Space in 2015, says, “We are clear we don’t want to support popular art forms, such as stand-up comedy and Bollywood music, they will find spaces as there is money in that. We are more interested in getting community and artistes engaged with each other in work that is exclusive and thought-provoking.”

In Bengaluru, homes now open doors to artists

Walkin Studio has a warm, homely feel to it. The three-storied space is an extension of life as art, so to speak, with installations gracing every corner and is a space for critical discourse. The core team of Walkin Studios comprises Vivek Chockalingam, Amyth Venkataramaiah, and Vishal Kumaraswamy. The space has hosted exhibitions, gigs, workshops, and a pop up cafe.

In Bengaluru, homes now open doors to artists

“We started four years ago. It was informal,” says Vivek, who is an installation artist. “We were a bunch of artistes who studied and worked together. We also host artiste residencies. different events and we curate them.”

Chinar started the apartment gallery Home Sweet Home in 2015. “We host two shows every year. Though I started this space from my home, I don’t call it a gallery space. It is an exhibition series, which means it is not bound to one particular home. I have taken Home Sweet Home to various domestic spaces, where domestic becomes a point of reference. It also becomes an anchor to conceptualise artists’ work and curatorial projects. As a result we have done Home Sweet Home in different cities. We did one show, for instance, in Kochi, where we rented out an apartment, we lived there and did a show there. The last show we had was in Delhi, at curator Meenakshi Thirukode’s house, which was in collaboration with the Delhi Art Fair. I did a show in Ahmedabad in a friend’s house.”

Opening up one’s personal space is a challenge as there is a blurring of the personal and the public.

Chinar says: “It is about thinking of the domestic space as a political space. You are not going to a gallery where the experience is muted. You enter into someone’s personal space, where there is a kitchen and a bathroom. You have to navigate the space and try to figure out where the art work is. Therefore to me, domestic as a space is much more complex to show art work, but it also lends itself to talk about more complex issues of privacy, of intimacy and non-intimacy in a much more diverse manner. You need different models of seeing art work, producing art work, and also creating a space where artists can interact.”

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 9:48:58 AM |

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