Bangalore Artists at Theertha 2010
As part of the Sethusamuduram Art Project artists resdiency at Theertha was held in December 2010. The residency incuded an goodwill exhibition by 1 shanthi Road artists mounted at the Theertha Red Dot Gallery at the start of the residency. The theme for the exhibition 'City in Transit' which backgrounded Bangalore and its current changes happening rapidly. The exhibition was curated by Suresh Jayaram and included number of artists, Venu V. G., Madhu D. Suresh Jayaram, M. S. Umesh, Sureka, Ravi Kashi, Cristoph Stroz, Sunoj. D, Shanthamani,Gururaj H. S., Gautam Sonti and Usha from Bangalore.
The Sethusamudurum Residency 2010
The residency component had the participation of Bangalore artists Venu V. G., Madhu D and Sri Lankan artists K. Pushpakumara, Pradeep Chandrasiri and Shani Jayawardena. The residency was held from 30th November to 27th December 2010 and exhibition was held from 27 December 2010 to 11th January 2011.
L to R: The works by Madu D. and Venu V. G.
L to R: The works by K. Pushpakumara. and Shani Jayawardene.
Pradeep Chandrasiri with his work at the Red Dot Gallery.
“City in Transit- Bangalore. 1.Shanthiroad @ Theetha”
by Suresh Jayaram
CITY IN TRANSIT-Mapping the Metropolis-BANGALORE
In retrospect, the colonial enterprise of constructing urban landscape and arboriculture gave Bangalore an identity.The laying out of Bangalore city and its landscape became an important agenda and changed the manner in which town planning and landscaping would structure this modern Indian city.The planning of the city during the colonial period and the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Krishnarajendra Wodeyar’s IV reign were instrumental in giving Mysore state in general and Bangalore city in particular a modern identity. The developmental decisions taken by I’s founders paved the way for the city’s identity as a ‘garden city’—a modern-day utopian model that curated nature and exploited climatic and soil conditions to the city’s benefit.
Everything happened too soon
The map of Bangalore has been drawn and re-drawn over the decades to promote an identity for an evolving city. Each of these political moves has had a social and cultural impact; diverse visions have located the city in the different local, national and global agendas. With the advent of public sector companies and institutions during the Nehruvian era, the face of the city changed. The vision of Bangalore as a garden city began to be sacrificed for the development of industry. Bangalore, once envisioned to balance nature and urban development, was soon wracked with basic planning problems.The influx of a work force from around the country and newfound wealth generated the need for large-scale housing and other infrastructure. Most long-term plans for the city were compromised, leading to a chequered development, with the illegal occupation of reserved land and the widespread filling up of lakes for civic infrastructure. Lack of respect for heritage, nature and culture became common and left the city scarred. The Urban Arts Commission, set up to monitor the aesthetics of the growing city, had little authority. The institution was seen as redundant and was scrapped so that the urban landscape could be thrown open to unscrupulous elements intent on fashioning the city in keeping with the greedy needs of the new elite.
The pressure on civic bodies such as Bangalore Mahanagara Palike—now known as Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike— was enormous. The city was bursting at the seams: it was the scene of endless traffic problems, congestion, water clogging, bad roads and poor civic amenities. The avenue trees soon fell to road widening projects, flyovers and the Metro. The planned green avenues and traffic islands gave way to underpasses and magic boxes. Krumbiegel’s pioneering foray into the globalisation of nature began to be inexorably damaged by the ambitions of another industry that, literally, flattened the earth. Landscape was replaced by real estate. City aesthetics were sacrificed in the name of development and urbanisation. The city’s cherished label of ‘Garden City’ was soon torn asunder by a mindless, unchecked construction.
Re-creating the utopian Vision
The information technology boom in Bangalore in the 1990swas definitely the most potent catalyst for changing cityplanning norms. The vision of Bangalore as another Singapore and the city’s fame as the ‘IT capital’ and the ‘Silicon Valley of India’ proved decisive. The unprecedented economic growth of Bangalore created a global identity that in turn led to the birth of Brand Bangalore. This accelerated change was welcomed with open arms by industry and government and fired a new dynamic in city planning while opening up the cosmopolitan cityscape to young software professionals and entrepreneurs. The tag of ‘City Beautiful’ was once bestowed on Bangalore for systematically cultivating nature. However, the identity of the Garden City was difficult to retain because the concrete urban sprawl was suffocating the sylvan old city—and the utopian vision had to be constantly recreated by the city to reclaim this loss.
Builders started to make promises about preserving the city’s green cover in their posh gated communities and villas that aped the Bangalore of the past. More and more corporate offices began to lay lawns on their premises. Golf courses began to increasingly replace farmland. The corporate horticulturist invested in farmland and grew hybrid roses and ornamental plants for the world market, while instant gardens were transplanted, overnight, by landscape architects. The rich flaunted their private gardens; and the last few colonial bungalow-gardens were lovingly preserved by their nostalgic owners. Nature and culture walks became popular, and serious debates began to take place on how best to nurture the city’s environment.
Today, the waves of inward migration and the fear of losing their native identity on the part of local inhabitants have led to the city’s landscape being recast as evidenced by the numerous statues of Kempegowda—founder of the fort of Bangalore and the adjoining settlements—that adorn the cityscape. At the same time, the spectacular opening up of cyberspace has also created vistas of a new technological landscape.This then is the hard reality confronting Bangaloreans, who are looking back with
nostalgia at the old Garden City and looking ahead with mixed feelings of apprehension and hope to a high-tech metropolis.
Envisioning a New Legacy
We are today witnessing protests by citizens who are anguished about the depleting green cover.But environmental laws continue to be bent to accommodate these shifts. More and more flyovers are slashing across our skyline in a bid to connect people and their destinations. The Metro is aggressively pushing its way through the city and hasty attempts are on to ‘paint’ the city green. Alas, in the loud chanting of the globalisation mantra, the voices resisting these changes are going unheard. If we are to save the city, we need to get our act together and we need to do it now. We need a comprehensive development plan that will sustain our environment and take care of the growing needs of the city without damaging its identity. Changing needs and changing patterns of urbanisation and economic activity are bound to change ‘heritage’ including built heritage – heritage is not a static but dynamic entity. We need to take lessons from history and from the enlightened pioneers and planners who were so selfless and passionate about our city.It is not too late to strike up a private/public partnership to chalk out our collective future—a safe future in which there will be an inclusive agenda, a well-structured development of the city, a curbing of greed, and punishment for those whose myopic actions, done for shortterm gain, threaten the city’s long-term well-being. We owe it to the children of Bangalore to leave them an environment in which both natural and architectural heritage are well looked after.
i Bangalore Though the Centuries. M Fazul Hasan, Historical Publications,
ii The Promise of the Metropolis. Janaki Nair, Oxford University Press,
iii The Bangalore City and its Future. M Visvesvaraya, Address to
the Bangalore Literary Union, Bangalore Press, 1953).
iv ‘A Pre-history of Green Architecture: Otto Königsberger and Tropical
Architecture, from Princely Mysore to Post-colonial London.’ Vandana
Baweja , PhD thesis.
Visit to Talaimannar
Sethusamudurum artists visit Talaimannar, Sri Lanka/ 2010 December 5th
From Talaimannar, before the eruption of the '27+ year-war', people could travel between South India and Sri Lanka by taking the ferry that shuttled between Dhanushkodi (India) and Talaimannar. Talaimanna and Dhanushkodi are the entry points to the real 'Sethusamudarm' that links South India with Srti Lanka.
Near the historical Biobab tree in Talaimannar. At the Talaimannar Dutch Fort.
Facade of the most famous and religious 'Madu Matha' church in Mannar. The Sethusamudram artist visited the church on their way back from Talaimannar.
The Goodwill exhibition by 1 Shanthi Road was held from 3rd to 15th December 2010 at Red Dot Gallery.