India biennale: British-era barracks at Red Fort to host exhibitions - Hindustan Times
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India biennale: British-era barracks at Red Fort to host exhibitions; launch of graphic novel on architecture

PTI | | Posted by Krishna Priya Pallavi, New Delhi
Oct 08, 2023 09:26 AM IST

The maiden India Art, Architecture & Design Biennale (IAADB) will be held from December 9 to December 15.

From ornate doors to ancient magnificent temples and heritage stepwells to rich textile designs, the art and architectural legacy of India will come together at a biennale showpiece to be hosted in December at the Red Fort in Delhi. The maiden India Art, Architecture & Design Biennale (IAADB) to be held from December 9-15 will also include seven "especially-curated" thematic exhibitions which will be housed in three British-era barracks located on the premises of the Mughal-era monument, officials sources told PTI.

The art and architectural legacy of India will come together at a biennale showpiece to be hosted in December at the Red Fort in Delhi.(File Photo)
The art and architectural legacy of India will come together at a biennale showpiece to be hosted in December at the Red Fort in Delhi.(File Photo)

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The inauguration and the VIP preview of the biennale, helmed by the Union Culture Ministry, will take place on December 8. A request has been sent to the Prime Minister's Office for the opening of the mega-scale event by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they said.

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"India is a culturally rich country endowed with a wealth of built heritage that has stood the test of time, and it is a home to art and artistic practices and designs that have endured over multiple eras. So, this India biennale seeks to create a platform and expand the canvas of art and culture to architectural elements as well," a senior official in the ministry told PTI.

Each day of the week-long event has been planned around a uniquely conceptualised theme which will be complemented by "exclusively curated exhibitions" for which "seven distinguished curators have been onboarded," the official said.

"Two exhibitions each will be held in two barracks (two storey-high) and the rest in another barrack. These old structures will add a layer of history and old-world allure to the exhibitions which will run even after the end of the biennale, till May 2024," an official source told PTI.

Sources at the Archaeological Survey of India also said a request had come from the culture ministry for using three of these old barracks built during the British period.

This biennale will also become an introduction to the 'cultural space' in Delhi at Red Fort as per the mandate of Prime Minister Modi, in pursuit of the MoU which was signed at the International Museum Expo held in May by the Ministry of Culture, the sources said.

"This event will be institutionalised and we would like to take this to different cities like Kolkata or Bengaluru next year. And, this also emphasises the 'cultural space' envisioned for the five cities. In the long term, we would like to go to other cities as well and create an impact in culture and creative economy and tourism economy of that place," the source added.

The IAADB 2023 will also offer chosen artists an opportunity to have their work showcased at this biennale, and a chance to participate in the prestigious Venice Biennale 2024, officials said.

The Venice Biennale takes place at locations. including the iconic Corderie at the centuries-old Arsenale in Italy.

Noted artists, architects, historians, art historians and journalists will take part in panel discussions and lectures among other events at the Red Fort event.

Programmes on all seven days will open with a keynote address by "an artist, architect or designer of international repute", and a "graphic novel on architecture" will also be launched.

The day-wise seven themes include in that order -- 'Doors of India', 'Gardens of India', 'Baolis of India', 'Temples of India', 'Architectural Wonders of Independent India', 'Indigenous Design' and 'Women in Architecture and Design', the sources said.

"The first day will be themed on 'Doors of India', and using the door as a metaphor, we will sort of unlock the gateway to let visitors immerse themselves in that experience. There will also be some antique door pieces on display," the source said.

This day will celebrate the several unique doors and gateways of our country and take one on a journey through India's built heritage.

On day one, sessions will include a discussion on the theme -- 'A Tale of Two Cities: Arch De Triomphe and India Gate', noting the striking similarity in the designs of the two landmarks in Paris and Delhi.

On the theme 'Gardens of India', the day will start with a conversation on gardens and the different spaces it engulfs; art, mythology, belief, popular culture, architecture, well-being, ecology, heritage and human imagination, the sources said.

'Temples of India' theme-based events will showcase and underline the architectural brilliance and feats of engineering in the ancient era which will be followed by the theme of built heritage from the period after Independence till now.

Preserving age-old traditions and regional identities and promoting sustainable practice will be the subsequent theme, and the events on the last day will acknowledge the contribution of women in the field of architecture and design, and "celebrate the brilliance and creativity of such women", the sources said.

Later in the evening, the official logo of the biennale was launched in the presence of Union Minister of State for Culture Meenakashi Lekhi at an event held at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) here.

"This event (that will take place in December), is about celebrating the inner creativity of Indians...It is also a moment to celebrate our ancient art and architectural heritage and also contemporary art," Lekhi said in her address.

The event was attended by a host of people from various walks of life, including diplomats, photographers, architects and curators.

Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, Mugdha Sinha, in her address at the event, said the response to the call given to artists for the biennale has been "tremendous".

The ministry said this event will serve as a precursor to India's participation in the Venice Biennale 2024.

The evening also saw a performance by jazz quartet 'Capital Three'.

Mumbai-based conservation architect Abha Narain Lambah welcomed the initiative and the idea of celebrating women in architecture.

"Venice Biennale celebrates art and architecture on alternate years, and the Indian government taking up this idea is worth appreciating. Also, Venice Biennale happens at old buildings too, so choosing Red Fort as a location is a wonderful idea," she told PTI.

The officials said an open call was made about a month ago for artists for this biennale in Delhi.

The ministry is also doing a call for artists and curators, inviting submissions for the exhibitions that will take place at IAADB, and further for the Venice Biennale 2024, they said.

Other highlights of the event will include an art camp in collaboration with art schools, architecture and design schools and colleges, an art flea market and a merchandise corner, besides cultural programmes.

A 'student biennale' will also be parallelly organised under the banner of the main biennale this year, giving youngsters a platform to showcase their talent, creativity, imagination and originality.

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.
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