One of the four venues of the JaipurPhoto festival, the newly refurbished Jawahar Kala Kendra, is on its way to becoming a hub of cultural activ
It was in 1993 that the Jawahar Kala Kendra, or JKK, opened its doors to Jaipur’s cultural connoisseurs. Designed by architect and urban planner, Charles Correa, this space was meant to serve as a cultural hub and preserve Rajasthan’s myriad arts and crafts. However, in the ensuing years, the lavish auditorium and spacious galleries fell silent and dust began to creep up on the sandstone, as the buzz of cultural activities started to die down. The Kendra would come alive in sputters on two occasions: for government functions and when folk artists from all over India would congregate for a mela. In 2015, when the chief minister of the state, Vasundhara Raje, decided to give culture and tourism in Rajasthan a facelift, Jawahar Kala Kendra saw hopes of revival. Plans for its repair were drawn up, and finally, on January 20, a refurbished space welcomed the public in with an exhibition of films, rare digital and video works by filmmaker Mani Kaul and painter Ranbir Singh Kaleka.
The revamped Kendra has been envisioned as a space where museum quality exhibitions, cutting across a range of genres—from new media, popular culture and photography to architecture, painting and design—will be held. One of the first few such shows to be hosted at the Kendra, post its facelift, is going to be the JaipurPhoto, an international photography festival. The outdoor spaces of JKK will serve as a backdrop to one of the 19 site-specific photo exhibitions that will be held at four such iconic heritage sites in the Pink City, starting February 24.
With large format prints on display, each of these site-specific shows have been structured to suit the architecture of the venue, thereby creating a dialogue between the content of the works displayed and the building. “For instance, in this edition of the festival, we are collaborating with an Indo-Swiss architectural firm (www.inch <http://www.inch/>), which has designed an outdoor pavilion located at the JKK,” says Lola Mac Dougall-Padgaonkar, artistic director, JaipurPhoto. The works have been curated in a manner that would complement the colour of the sandstone walls of the Kendra.