Participating artists and projects

Artists, activists and you!

Suresh Jayaram
Raghu Tenkayala
1.Shanthi Road

Elisabeth Lengheimer, Salon Emmer
Tanja Dinter, Salon Emmer
Deepak Srinivasan, Maraa

Dienstag, 29. Juni 2010

Krumbiegel Project

Mr.Krumbiegel at his office inside Lalbagh Botanical Garden, Bangalore
Mr.Krumbiegel with his daughters at their official residence inside Lalbagh
A sketch of Mr. Krumbiegel- 1940

Picture Courtesy : Dawn Willmott

This project focuses on Gustav Herman Krumbiegel,(1865-1956) who is a horticulturist and an one of the chief architects of Lalbagh Botanical Gardens. His contribution is very important and is significant in creating an identity of a Garden city for Bangalore. He introduced several exotic trees into Bangalore and curated the planting of species that flowered serially and was called “serial blossoming”. The research on him is fragmentary and will need more inputs from different sources for a comprehensive presentation about his life in India and his involvement here to a larger public. The process will involve sourcing letters, photographs and the construction of landscape and town planning drawings that reflect the making of the garden city and will also highlight the contribution of other distinguished individuals who have contributed to this legacy. We hope to find this information from public and private collections for the exhibition. The project will focus on the environment and heritage of tree species.

A comprehensive study has to be undertaken to establish the contribution of Gustav Krumbiegel through research, documentation and a curated art exhibition. This work will also focus on the environment and the making of the garden city as an ideal utopia, a city envisioned as a planned landscape.

Note on Krumbiegel

It was Krumbiegel’s work at the Gaekwad’s estate at Ooty which brought him into contact with Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar. Krumbiegel joined Mysore State service in 1908 as the Curator of Botanical Gardens at Lalbagh on the retirement of John Cameron. As a result of merger of various parks and gardens, hill stations and other horticultural establishments into the Department of Government Gardens, Krumbiegel’s position was elevated to the cadre of Superintendent, and subsequently, to the post of Director of Horticulture.

His tenure as the Director of Horticulture started with hectic plant introduction activities. He had a keen insight about the methodical development of horticulture, on both aesthetic and commercial lines. His keen interest in arboriculture led to Bangalore’s famed tree lined streets. To raise the reputation of the Lalbagh Botanical Gardens, he introduced an incredible number of exotic floras by making global correspondence and contacts. His focus on economic horticultural activity has made Bangalore today a well know centre of floriculture and horticulture.

He served the State as for 25years as “Economic Botanist to Government” till his retirement in 1932. Apart from heading the department he was also instrumental in founding various important cultural institutions like the Mythic Society and Mysore Horticultural Society. After his retirement, he settled at Bangalore and worked as the ‘Landscape Advisor’ to the state of Mysore, till his death in the year 1956, he is buried in Bangalore. The city is indebted to him, except for a road named after him. Unfortunately there is no official public acknowledgement of him or a special publication, and this is an opportunity to work on his unique contribution.
A public awareness through curation of his work and life and an exhibition will include the works of various visual artists who have responded to this research.

Curator and Researcher : Suresh Jayaram
Research Assistant : Raghu Tenkayala

Artists :
Shamayala Nandish
Suresh Kumar,
Dilip da Cunha and Anuradha Mathur
Ayisha Abraham

The contributors for the publication include :

Dilip Da Cunha and Anuradha Mathur
Prof.Suresh Jayaram,
Dr.Hittal Mani
Prof.Dr.Chandan Gowda

Montag, 28. Juni 2010

banni mara and its significance by- Chandra Ravikumar

Our ancestors were intelligent people. More importantly they were wise people. The traditions they devised were imbued with meaning and knowledge that would ensure the well-being of the future of not just humans, but also of all animate and inanimate aspects of this planet. The generations that passed forgot the knowledge, but not the traditions. This is because these traditions are loaded with enjoyment. Often, we encounter strong denunciations of one of our greatest traditions, which are the scores of festivals we celebrate. This is one more exhibition of ignorance. For, every festival we celebrate is a great repository of knowledge, and is also a means to transfer this knowledge through generations. If one foolish generation forgot the knowledge, no matter, it is not completely lost to the next intelligent generation which can recover it from our inherited traditions and festivals; while the wiser generations can use this knowledge to better their lives and our world.

These traditional festivals were made enjoyable in many ways. The gathering together of people, the delicious food, fascinating myths and legends explaining the celebrations, the music and dance, the opportunity to exhibit artistic abilities and the light and colour, help the effortless and natural preservation of these traditions; and also give them the strength to withstand the multifold historical and societal attempts to erase them from our memory.

Here I would like to use the Dassehara festival and our old Mysore tradition of worshipping the Banni Maara to help us know and understand the importance of the Banni tree to the people of our land.

The name PANCHAVATI is familiar to every Indian. It is the place in the forests on the banks of the Narmada river, identified for them by the Sage Agasthya, where Rama and Sita and Lakshmana made their home during their exile. PANCHAVATI also stands for a grove of the five kinds of trees, very sacred to the people of our land. These are the :

Asvatha Mara – the Peepal tree – Ficus religiosa

Bilva Mara – Aegle marmelos

Audambara Mara – the Athi tree – Ficus indica

Nimba Mara – the Neem tree – Azadirachta indica

Shami Mara – the Banni tree – Prosopsis spicegira/Prosopsis cineraria/acaia ferruginea

It is believed that just like some people are gifted with a concentration of certain abilities, so certain places, minerals, plants and animals are also gifted with concentrations of certain qualities. This belief is based on observable, measurable and experienced truths and is not a child of the imagination. The Panchavati trees are a treasure house of health, wealth and happiness for this Earth and the creatures on it, including us people. I am here copy-pasting extracts from other sources, with due acknowledgement, that will explain what I mean. I am duly giving the proper credits for the sources. You are welcome to search in these and other related sources for more information on these trees.

Whenever I read about the continuing massacre of out trees, even these that have been held sacred to our land for thousands of years, I suffer such anger, anguish, and sorrow, that I begin to wonder why these Rakshasas are being allowed to continue to perpetrate this terrible crime. Please do not consider me as unbalanced, but the sheer agony of watching the perpetration of all these horrors and not being able to stop it, makes me often plead,”Are You blind? Are You deaf? Why are You still resting atop that hill? How much more has to happen before You take up arms and come down to destroy this evil? You who were the destroyer of Ignorance personified in the form of Mahishaswara – is the abysmal ignorance of these people too much for even You to destroy?”

The great sages of our ancient land, perceived the immeasurable significance of our trees. The Banni Mara is also known as the VANNI MARAM in the Tamil language. According to the Saiva Siddhantha philosophy and the medical tradition of Siddha Vaidya that was born of it, the BANNI or VANNI tree is associated with the Heat Principle of the Universe. This Cosmic Heat is called RUDRAAGNI and is supposed to emerge from the third eye of SIVA. KARTIKEYA or SUBRAMANYA or SKANDA is the deity who represents this Cosmic Heat . That is why the story says that he was born of the sparks that flew out from Siva’s third eye. And that is why Skanda and Ganesha, representing Heat and Light, are brothers. The BANNI MARA has the power to hold and preserve the Rudra-agni energy in its leaves.

This heat is essential for the existence of Life on this planet as well as for the protection of this life from harmful influences. It is present in the five elements or materials (Panchabhutas) that form all of Creation and the one Life Force (Jeevan) that permeates them. These six aspects of Heat are the six faces of Shanmukha. Therefore Skanda is the Leader of the protective forces of the Universe. His planet or Gruha is Mars, the fiery planet. His day is Tuesday. The plant that is sacred to him and worshipped at all his Sthalas or Sacred Places is the BANNI.

The BANNI is also sacred to Durgaa, in Her role as protector of the world from the Asuras. As the BANNI is the tree that holds the heat of the fire that protects, the Mahabharata says that the Pandavas hid their weapons in a BANNI MARA during the years they had to be in exile incognito.

As the BANNI holds the power of the Cosmic Heat in itself, it is the twig of this tree that is used to start the fire for a Vedic Homa/Yagna. Another name for the BANNI is SAAMI. Do we see the common origin between this Saami and the name Samidha given to the special kinds wood fuel used in fire rituals?

There is a very important group of people called the VANNIYAR in Tamil Nadu. But their community is spread all a cross India going under different names. They trace their descent from the two soldiers who guarded the BANNI MARA in which the Pandavas hid their weapons near the Kingdom of Virata in the North. They are of the Kshatriya caste and became renowned soldiers of the Pallava and later Chola kings. They were the people chosen to be the King’s special protectors. They worship Draupadi. Draupadi herself was born of Fire, says the Mahabharata.

The BANNI is very important in folk-medicine too. I remember my grandmother treating a sudden drop in body temperature during a sickness, with a decoction made from the pods or leaves of the tree.

There is lot more to be said about this beautiful tree. I will cut-paste some extracts from the sources that will tell you more. I hope this bit has been of interest to you and leads you to make further connections.

Pictures from a tree planting Sunday

1.Shanthi Road and Maara collaborated with local residents of Amarjothi Layout of Domlur Bangalore in an outreach programme of tree planting in a vacant plot to be developed as a park in the future. The idea of appropriating public space to convert it into a common park area, is a secular act with ecological and social repercussions.This can be viewed in the context of the depletion of urban environment in the city of Bangalore.

This programme is significant because it involved the local residents to be part of the process of planting, maintaining and nurturing a patch of greenery for the common good. The involvement of the local corporator Mrs. Geeta Srivinasa Reddy also adds a formal and political angle to this event. The participation of young children is significant in changing mindsets about urban ecology for the future.

More than 25 families planted 109 trees!

Mrs.Geetha Reddy kick starting the activity

Samstag, 26. Juni 2010

Tree Festival - Schedule of Events

26th June Streets of Bangalore, Citywide 10.00 am-2.00 pm:
Maragala Meravanige, a mobile poster gallery Call 9343763497

26th 1ShanthiRoad 6.30 pm onwards:
Vriksha Chitra, Film and video art screenings on trees Call 9343763497
27th June Local Park, Amar Jyoti Layout, Domlur (next to mother earth store)8.00am-10.00am Manegondhu Maraa! A tree planting initiative Call 9964533379

27th June Koramangala side street, opposite Raheja and close to Forum
10.00am-12.00am CITY SPECS SERIES: Call 9886928582
Missing My Green, an interaction with a reticent city dweller who shares his unique passion and work

27th June 1ShanthiRoad, Shanthinagar:
DODDA MARAA CHIKKA MAATU, short talks on Bangalore's trees Call 9343763497
5.00pm-6.00pm Greening of Bangalore - A talk by Vijay Thiruvady
6.00pm-7.30pm Trees and Traffic - Hasiru Usiru
7.30pm -8.00pm Native Trees of Bangalore - A talk by Sheshadri
Display of Mobile Poster exhbits
3rd July Mantri Mall, Sampige road 11.00am-1.00pm
"Moving In-Between" , A participative installation Call 9886928582

3rd July Bandstand, Cubbon Park 5.00pm onwards
"Ajab Sheher!" songs of Kabir on nature with filmmaker and artist, Shabnam Virmani Call 9343763497

3rd July Bandstand, Cubbon Park Display of Mobile Poster exhbits
July 4th Cubbon Park 11.00am- 4.00pm
Eco-Art, theatre & Storytelling Workshop for Children Call 9886928582

July 4th Jaaga, Opposite Hockey Stadium, Shantinagar 6.30pm onwards
Jaaga Jaatre! An evening of music and jamming Call 9880755875

Donnerstag, 24. Juni 2010

“Maragala Meravanige!” A mobile poster gallery

Maragala Meravanige(tree procession )is part of AROUND A TREE, an urban tree festival in Bangalore.

Ever since the city of Bangalore began a rapid transformation in its appearance, aesthetics, infrastructure and ecology, tree felling has stood out as a traumatic loss for inhabitants of the city. These trees have many meanings and utility for different groups of people, childhood memories of trees, landmarks and visual landscape, fresh air, shade and even urban identity. From vendors to school going children, the middle aged and youth, from auto drivers to two wheeler owners, from traders to residents, the groups are diverse and yet fragmented in their lament.
Some voices have come together in different parts of Bangalore to protest against loss of trees and the changing landscapes. Public parks like Lalbagh and Cubbon Park have been under threat by various governmental plans to create Metro stations or amusement parks and cut down trees that are our natural heritage. Some of these protests have worked, some not.

Here, today we bring you a collection of visual expression on trees. Angst, anguish, plea, awareness, celebration and reflection….

Participating artists

Abhiskeka Krishnagopal
Balraj K N
Bhavani G S
Giridhar Khansis
Javad Quraishi
Mishta Roy
Nirali Lal
Nooreen Lallamode
Prashant Seal & Rahul Bhatacharya
Priya Sebastian
Racheal Hegnauer
Ravisha Mall
Seersha Mukerjee
Shymala Billava
Sneha Prasad
Suvi Kadur
Suresh Jayaram
Tamara De Laval
Tamilarasan Anandam
Vasudev S G
Yattish L Shittgar


AROUND A TREE, an Urban Tree festival
(part of Khoj- Negotiating Routes initiative)

26, 27June & 3, 4 July 2010, Bangalore

Trees have been the source of memory, inspiration and identity for old Bangaloreans but with massive changes in the infrastructure of Bangalore, a severe loss of the urban majestic greenwood is being experienced and grieved. Maraa & 1Shanthiroad collaboratively bring to the city AROUND A TREE, an urban tree festival to revive the spirit of trees and the role they played in the lives of the city’s inhabitants.
The festival is unique and participative, involving local artist, academic and activist groups, art & media forms, communities of children and talks in Indian languages. Amongst activities proposed for the festival, some interesting activities include

- Traveling mobile poster gallery : 26th June, 2010, Citywide

Since the city has seen an outpouring of concerned citizens’ activity around tree felling and loss of green in the city, it made sense to call for creative posters from various quarters, artists to activists, from adults to children.
The response has been overwhelming, with a lot of artists sending in posters to the event. A set of curated posters will travel the city in a mobile van and be hoisted at different public places like street corners and public parks that will work as instant open gallery spaces.

- Experimental visual protest:

• Public art installation : June 26, 10am, Sampige road, Bangalore
• Video art screening : June 26, 6.30pm, 1Shanthiroad, Bangalore
While a duo of visual artists, Pallavi and Mithali work towards an art installation as a form of protest around trees marked to be felled for road widening,
Siddharth Pillai from an active film club from the city, Bangalore Film Society helps put together a short video art montage of scenes with tree images from world cinema!

- A series of talks have been organised on the evening of 27th July at 1Shanthiroad- on historic perspectives of greening of the greater Bangalore region, indigenous tree species of this region and the conflict between trees and traffic decisions in the modern metropolis. Mr Vijay Thiruvady, Mr Sheshdri and representatives from the Hasiru Usiru collective present SHORT TALKS.

- On the evening of 3rd July come over to Cubbon Park’s Bandstand for soul stirring strains of Kabir, the 16th century saint’s dwellings on the natural world. Performed by filmmaker and artist, Shabnam Virmani.
4th of July evening will see a jamming session of various musicians at Jaaga as a tribute to the strong and solid image and spirit of the tree.

manegondhu maraa ( a tree for every home ) Tree Planting

In the wake of the changing landscape of Bangalore, we have seen an unprecedented depletion of tree cover. This is the price we pay for city development and unorganized planning. The government has made few attempts of transplanting trees. There have been no conscious efforts to put into place Arboriculture and other scientific approaches to tree management nor is there an attempt at making it a collaborative effort with the citizens. Negotiating Routes-Ecologies of the Byways* is an attempt to involve the public in planting the trees they love. This is a private-public partnership to green the city in a small way while keeping in mind the urgent need for bio-aesthetics by planting local trees. This project has been initiated by KHOJ New Delhi with local collaboration with VAC/1.Shanthiroad, Maara and Amarjothi Layout Residents Welfare Association, Domlur.

In this project each family living in the locality will plant and nurture a tree in a designated park. This will specially involve children who will be encouraged to adopt a particular tree. A ledger will then be maintained by the children who will be assisted to monitor the progress of the tree. This will be compiled into a book by the welfare association.

Venue: Domlur (adjacent to Mother Earth, Intermediate Ring Road)
Time: 8am - 10 am
Date: Sun 27 June 2010
Contact: 9964533379

*Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways

Inspired by the need to render "the world a big forest, making towns and environments forest-like.", Negotiating Routes: Ecologies of the Byways, is a 2 year project inviting reflection by artists on the anxiety of ‘development’ embodied in the rank infrastructural development across India and its coexistence with local ecologies.
Over two years, Negotiating Routes hopes to map the various project sites across the country to create an alternative road map where artists and communities have come together and have been involved in discussions on the regeneration of the local ecology of the cities or villages that they inhabit.
This project was initiated by Varsha Nair and is co curated by Pooja Sood at KHOJ.

All are welcome!

Mittwoch, 2. Juni 2010

Narratives from the "Garden city".

“Everything happened too soon”

The map of Bangalore has been drawn and redrawn to envision an identity for an evolving city. Each of these political moves has had a social and cultural impact that unfolded diverse visions that located the city in the trajectory of local, national and global agendas. The city planners and technocrats were etching a social and cultural context to a changing city.

With the coming of public sectors and institutions in the Nehruvian era, the face of the city would change yet again. The vision of Bangalore as a garden city began to be sacrificed for the development of industry.

This city, once envisioned to balance nature and urban development, was soon wrought with basic planning problems. The influx of a work force from around the country and newfound wealth generated a need for housing and other basics of infrastructure. Most long-term plans for the city were compromised, leaving a chequered development, with illegal occupation of reserved land, and filling up of lakes for civic infrastructure. Lack of respect for heritage, nature and culture was rampant, and left the city scarred. The Urban Arts Commission, designed to monitor the aesthetics of the growing city, had little authority. The institution was seen as redundant and was axed to open up the urban landscape to unscrupulous elements who fashioned the city according to the greedy needs of the new elite.

The pressure on civic bodies such as BMP (Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) - now known as BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) was enormous. The city was bursting at the seams with traffic problems, congestion, water clogging, bad roads and civic amenities. The avenue trees soon fell to road widening, flyovers and the Metro. The planned green avenues and traffic islands gave way to underpasses and magic boxes.

Krumbiegel’s pioneering venture into the globalisation of nature had begun to be pre-empted by the ambitions of another industry that metaphorically flattened the earth. Landscape was replaced by real estate. City aesthetics were sacrificed in the name of development and unprecedented urbanisation. The city’s utopian label of “Garden City” was soon being torn down to accommodate change and to celebrate mindless construction.

Recreating the utopian vision

The opening up of information technology in Bangalore during the 1990s was unmistakably the most significant catalyst in the change in the planning of the city. The vision of Bangalore as another Singapore and the city becoming known as the IT capital and “Silicon Valley of India” was decisive. The unprecedented economic growth of Bangalore has been enviable, and created a global identity that is responsible for Brand Bangalore This accelerated change was welcomed by industry and government. It fashioned new dynamics to the growth and planning of the city, and opened up the cosmopolitan urbanscape to be populated by young software professionals and entrepreneurs.

New promises were made by builders, about the sustenance of nature with gated communities and villas that aped the Bangalore of the past. More corporate gardens created lawns, and golf courses replaced farmland. The corporate horticulturist invested in farmland, and grew hybrid roses and ornamental plants for the world market. Lawns could be ordered by the square feet, and instant gardens transplanted by landscapists overnight. The well-to-do preserved private gardens and the last of the colonial bungalow gardens were retained by nostalgic owners. Nature and culture walks became popular, and serious attempts began to be made to dialogue and debate about urban environment.

The tag of “City Beautiful” was attributed to Bangalore for the systematic cultivation of nature. This involved selection of species, acclimatisation and propagation. The identity of the Garden City was difficult to retain in the process of the emerging metropolis, and the utopian vision had to be constantly recreated by the city to reclaim this loss. Today, in the wave of migration and the fear of loss of native identity by Kannada fans and sons of the soil, the city’s identity has been recast by the profusion of Kempegowda sculptures that dot the city to honour the founding chieftain and reclaim local pride in the language.

The opening up of cyberspace has created new vistas of another technological landscape. This is the new reality for the citizen, looking back in nostalgia for the erstwhile Garden City, and looking ahead with uncertainty and hope, and the pressure and price of living in a changing metropolis. In the midst of urban chaos, the dream has gone sour.

Envisioning a new legacy

Today, we witness protests by citizens who are anguished about the depleting green cover and diminishing green belt. Environmental laws have been bent to accommodate these shifts. We see more flyovers slashing across our skyline to connect people and their destinations. We also see the Metro pushing its way through, and hasty attempts to “paint” the city green. In the din of globalisation, the many voices that resist these changes go unheard.

If we are to save the city beyond this point, we need to our act together, and we need to do it now. We need a comprehensive development plan that will sustain our environment and heritage and take care of further needs without damaging the identity of the city. We need to take lessons from history and from those enlightened planners who were so selfless and passionate about our city.

It is never too late to have a private/public partnership that can re-envision our common future. To have an inclusive agenda, and to take pride in the development of the city. To curb greed. To hold responsible those whose myopic actions taken for short-term goals threaten the city’s long-term well-being. We owe it to the future citizens of Bangalore to inherit an environment that nurtures heritage and nature as a legacy.

Suresh Jayaram