Annapurna Garimella

Arts Research and Documentation

Grant Period: Over one year

Annapurna Garimella finished her Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Art History from California State University, Northridge and went on to complete her M.A., M.Phil and PhD from Columbia University in New York. She is a scholar working in the field of art history.

Bangalore’s three hundred year-old religious architecture has been greatly influenced by Hindu, British and Persian forms. Juxtaposed with this is present-day Bangalore, which is making concerted efforts towards reinventing itself as ‘the city of India’s future’. Annapurna Garimella and her research associate S.K. Rao consider Bangalore an ideal site for the study of contemporary religious art and architecture, given how sacred buildings in this city constantly “adapt, circulate and reify elements taken from popular architecture”.

Annapurna and her associate will document the sacred geography of old and new shrines and religious sites and structures. The specific implications that new religious idioms and spaces hold for old cults and traditional sacred sites will be the focus of the investigation. The researchers will pay special attention to religious music and sermon cassettes glorifying a particular deity or religious leader, shrine publications and mementos.

Additionally, the scholars will study temporary images and structures, festival and holiday behaviour. They will document the crafting of specific religious icons, their sponsors and locations, and also inquire into the use, if any, of modern technologies in attempts to attract new devotees. The structures the scholars intend to study are situated in graveyards, parks, on boundary walls, and sidewalks.

Annapurna and Rao expect their study to generate discussions involving planners, conservation groups, religious institutions and neighborhood associations on the representation of religion in public space, the use of public land for religious architecture, and current definitions of the public. The project’s outcome will take the form a complete cartographic survey and photographic documentation of all religious sites and structures, as well as the manuscript for a book which, it is hoped, will be published in both English and Kannada.