So many of us live in a city our whole lives, never fully knowing the rich heritage that lives on in the streets. We spend our entire lives ignorant about the idiosyncrasies of our diverse culture, never giving a second thought to its multifacetedness. Himanshu Verma, an arts curator, has set out to change that. Himanshu founded Red Earth in 2004, a Jaipur based independent arts organisation to engage with heritage and cultural narratives.
An organisation inclined to revitalize the rich heritage and culture, read on to know more about them.
Conceptualising Red Earth
Himanshu Verma has always been fond of the arts, regularly immersing himself in artistic expressions. Himanshu works as a freelance researcher and writer. As an artist, he is involved in various multimedia collaborative art projects. Originally founded in New Delhi, his organisation Red Earth works with Indian contemporary visual arts and aesthetics, as well as diverse forms of cultural expressions. Red Earth curates exhibitions, visual arts projects, and art festivals which engage with diverse themes and narratives such as Indian seasons and festivals, food, as well as other themes such as masculinities, and contemporary urban Indian culture.
Eventually, drawn by the vibrancy of Jaipur and it’s rich cultural heritage, Red Earth moved their entire organisation from New Delhi to Jaipur. They were determined to explore the city to discover and unveil all its traditions steeped in history.
As Red Earth shared, they strive to create bridges between traditional Indian practices and contemporary creative expression. The vision behind Red Earth is to celebrate the diverse culture in India in all its varied manifestations. Red Earth “refuses to compartmentalise culture into strict categories of high and low, classic and modern, niche and popular, or rural and urban.” They strive towards a newer understanding of culture in India today, creating a unique arts organisation in urban India. Red Earth is passionate about supporting innovation as well as tradition.
Amongst other projects, The Saree Festival shines bright as a beacon, celebrating culture and heritage in a unique manner. It is a festival dedicated to a celebration of diverse, contemporary saree styles. The Saree Festival is the first festival in the country to celebrate the classic drape of India through various mediums such as saree exhibitions, talks, film screenings, presentations, and other multidisciplinary projects.
Himanshu’s latest project is The Genda Phool Project which celebrates the universe of the marigold flower though various mediums such as art, music, plantations, and flower walks.
With ambitious projects, challenges are always to be expected. It is no different with Red Earth and Himanshu Verma. As Himanshu pointed out, Red Earth is a completely self-supported arts organisation, more creative rather than commercial. They have to consistently work towards ensuring viability as their organisation is more creative rather than commercial. Simply sustaining the organisation is a challenge that Red Earth often battles.
However, even with all these challenges, Red Earth flourishes. Because the people that make Red Earth what it is are passionate about what they do, the people who participate with them enjoy themselves. The ideas and concepts that Red Earth works on are novel and new, hence attractive to whomever might want to explore and participate. Passion is what makes Red Earth what it is.
Red Earth: The Future
Himanshu and Red Earth are excited about continuing to work on more creative ideas and concepts. They want to give back to art interns, and create a safe space for art to thrive in all its forms and manifestations.
Red Earth will continue being inspired by Indian aesthetics: Indian seasons, festivals, prints, traditions, and integrating them with a contemporary, urban aesthetic.