With public spaces shrinking, individuals, architects and artists are thinking of alternate ways to re-invent available spaces that can appeal and engage the community.
An empty plot transformed into a community space in seven days — that was what this Sunday evening witnessed. The piece of land was bustling with activity with children exploring the blue-orange coloured steel structure, while in a corner, audience — students, men and women from the neighbourhood — sat on a yellow tarpaulin and watched a performance put together by ‘Maraa’, a media collective, that focused on relationships, love and marriage.
The idea of Jaaga (space) originated when Archana Prasad, an artist, noticed lack of affordable creative community spaces. That and the knowledge that the city has several unused plots initiated the idea of combining the two to create a shared community space that could be assembled, dissembled and re-assembled. “This is the challenge we are all interested in,” writes Archana on her website (http://jaaga.wikidot.com). Jaaga - is an urban community on an Art-Architecture experiment.
“I like urban environment, but it also has space issues,” says Freeman Murray, creative technologist from US who is building the structure, “So the solution is to go up.” Pointing at the open space below the structure, Murray says, “I look at it as a space where people can walk around freely.” By dividing the structure into levels, he says, it will culminate in two circles.
Jaaga is possible with the help of several creative minds working together, like Naresh Narasimhan, a creative architect, and the group Urbanology (a think and action-tank of designers and architects), along with Prasad and Murray.
Exploiting the fluidity of open space, the actors placed themselves in front of the audience, on beams, in corners, with one actor plonked amidst the audience.
The crux of their story revolved around the problem of dowry. The actors donned various roles — of a bride’s father, a groom-to-be, a grandfather, a happily married man — and tried to look at the issue through a ‘man’s perspective’.
The bride’s father, speaking of the many trips he made with his son-in-law to various shops, buying things for his daughter’s happy marriage, his baffled state when he says, “He was so sure of what he wanted, like a wolf that had just tasted blood and knew his prey” — everything reflected the parent’s agony.
The groom-to-be begins by telling the audience how, “I’m an atheist, you see”, “I don’t believe in arranged marriage”, and portrays his visible surprise when he talks about his friends getting “Rs80lakh as dowry”, his transformation apparent when he says, “I am getting married, it is an arranged marriage”, and his struggle accepting that his family is willing to accept dowry.
His dilemma is amusing as well as annoying — instances when he tries to reason that taking dowry is wrong, but then his inability to take a stand especially when he begins thinking about how the additional wealth will help him.
The overall performance was engaging. With a slight drizzle garnishing the event, the audience began interacting with the performers.
To have a dekko at the space, you can drop in at Rhenius Street, Off Richmond Road, Opp. the Hockey Stadium, Shanthinagar, Bangalore.