The picturesque north Indian state of Rajasthan will boast of yet another attraction on December 10. The historic Madhavendra Palace, Nahargarh Fort, Jaipur is to be the locale of a sculpture park that displays contemporary works of sculpture by leading Indian and international artists. The lineup for 2017 includes names like Arman, Huma Bhabha, Stephen Cox, Anita Dube, Vibha Galhotra, Jitesh Kallal, Asim Waqif and Bharti Kher
What is planned as an annual fixture is the outcome of an unusual collaboration between the Rajasthan government and non-profit Saat Saath Arts. The exhibition is painstakingly curated by Peter Nagy, director of New Delhi-based Nature Morte, a well known contemporary art gallery and curatorial experiment. This correspondent spoke to Nagy in the run up to the exhibition about the conception of the exhibition, its significance for the public art movement in India and the future of the ambitious project. Excerpts:
How did you come to be associated with this project?
Peter Nagy: I worked on a large city-wide multi-disciplinary arts festival in Jaipur from 2000-2002, curating and organising contemporary art projects and exhibitions. At that time I thought it would be marvelous to put large sculptures into historic buildings, especially the monumental forts. So this idea has been gestating for about 15 years and is finally being realised now.
The Sculpture Park seems a really interesting experiment. How was it conceived?
Peter Nagy: We have always been aware of the lack of public art venues in India as well as arts being a part of our living heritage. Aparajita Jain, founder and director of Saat Saath Arts and co-director of Nature Morte, and I have always been speaking about the need for venues, and she suggested the uses of heritage space in India for contemporary sculpture. We need public spaces for art, for contemporary art to be viewed by the masses and to use culture as a conduit for job creation, tourism and economic growth of areas.
How do you see it evolving in the future?
Peter Nagy: I don't know if we can see many more Sculpture Parks in India in the near future. The logistics and challenges are just too great for many more to spring up quickly. But we do hope that this endeavor will create more opportunities for collaborations between the public and private sectors for cultural projects.
Do you think other historical sites could be locales for such galleries?
Peter Nagy: Of course! We are seeing this as a model and it works well the Government of Rajasthan has said that they will make other historical properties available for cultural uses. The Sculpture Park at Madhavendra Palace will be an annual one, with a new exhibition opening every December. The next step would be to create permanent large-scale artworks in public sites around the state and look at other uses for other types of buildings.