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Jaaga – Creative Common Ground



Having spent a long weekend with Archana Prasad –Co Founder Jaaga, National Institute of Design alumnus and Bangalore based artist, in Pondicherry, where she was performing with her group The Manjunauts, (she is also a VJ) at the Freedom Jam; I had the chance to engage in a dialogue with her about Jaaga.

Jaaga’s name has been popping up at a very frequent rate, in the art+ design circle here in Bangalore. Over the last couple of months, it has become a hotspot for performances, exhibitions, workshops and social interventions. To break it down, Jaaga, which means space in Kannada, is an urban community art-architecture experiment, currently situated in Bangalore. It is a modular structure that employs a participatory design process where the community helps build and use it. It includes web enabled workspaces and large multi-level public spaces. The fact that this building is mobile and can be moved to different neighbourhoods, cities and countries; taking with it its culture of pushing the envelope of innovation and pro-activism at a neighbourhood level to greater heights, is an added bonus.

Jaaga was born out of Archana’s insatiable desire for a dedicated space for the city’s artists who are rich in talent albeit not necessarily in funds, to showcase their work.  Together with fellow artists Suresh Kumar G and Shivaprasad S, they founded an artist collective called Samuha. With 23 artists of various disciplines like painting, sculpture, new media and performance arts, Samuha is running for 414 days, having started June 22, 2009. Each artist member owns 17 days at the space and can use it for exhibitions, seminars, workshops and interactions on art practices.

6919_155215790663_554660663_4072236_3620747_nSamuha being in place, Archana’s quest for an artistic haven – a creative common place, was still on. A chance meeting between Archana and Freeman Murray, an American technologist in India, lead to the creation of Jaaga, Having successfully worked with pallet racks in the past through various projects in the US, he suggested constructing a modular sturdy structure using this warehouse shelving, usually used for heavy duty industrial purposes. Pallet racking is a material handling storage system designed to store materials on pallets. Although there are many varieties of pallet racks, all types allow for the storage of palletized materials in horizontal rows with multiple levels.

Jaaga is a massive structure made up of red and blue pallet racks put together and looks like a movie set. With the assistance of volunteers, Jaaga was built up in all of 15 hours. The flooring is made up of plywood and metal wires and the walls are made of billboards. Being fully mobile, it can be dismantled and reassembled within hours. Jaaga is currently redesigning itself into being more spacious and modular. The entire structure will be a dichotomy between a natural earthy airy area and cyber industrial space.  Jaaga’s USP is that it brings together art, technology and social change activists to share their practices with the world and with the neighbourhood. It also re-looks the concept and conception of space; and that real estate can be moved, folded and floating.  Archana wanted the whole structure to look like a Lego building. When they got the space, a 300 sq. ft plot, they had to clean it up, as there was a lot of garbage and weeds that had grown around it. Volunteers came in and helped remove the garbage and weeded the place out.

6919_155215795663_554660663_4072237_7041559_nThe first event at Jaaga was the Robert Bosch Art Grant ceremony. Since its inception, Jaaga has hosted various events, including a performance by the Attakkalari Center for Movement Arts, which had eight dancers performing in eight modular spaces. As a space, it is available free of cost and artists or anyone interested are invited to submit proposals with ideas on how they would like to use the space. The vision of Jaaga is that it becomes a future University that harnesses the power of modern technology to herald a new breed of creative thinkers and doers; also to be a virtual repository of avant-garde thinking stemming in India and rooted in the world.

9730_140225387756_689932756_3042722_5795552_nTo quote Archana – “We live the reality of a world whose path, starting from mass production – industrialisation, has created the tensions that the West worries about. We already live it. Being an artist in that landscape can only be interesting. As artists we are super sensitive to these cracks and tears in the fabric of society. Our works are reactions, imaginations, renditions, and explorations of the chaos that surround us. How can anything honest that comes out of such stark, harsh, cruel yet beautiful reality be anything short of exciting. India is a hotbed of superbness now.”

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3 Responses to “Jaaga – Creative Common Ground”

  1. a.v.koshy says:

    good writing
    give subtitles for the photos ria

  2. Ria says:

    Thank you Koshy. I’ve been taught well.
    Yea subtitles is a good idea :)

  3. Zack Denfeld says:

    A great preview of the space! Why haven’t I gotten there yet? :-( Soon, soon, soon I keep telling myself. Your article has moved me to action. I will finally be getting there this Friday.

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