Anu Menda, Managing Trustee of the RMZ Foundation (RMZF), is an innovative visionary who supports and upholds the foundation’s ethos of bringing about societal change. Her strategic vision spans across the disciplines of art, resilient communities, and urban innovation to provide holistic solutions to social challenges. RMZF is a non-governmental organization that has, since its founding, been committed to fulﬁlling an enduring mission: To promote the well-being of humanity. The Foundation works at the intersection of three focus areas: Art, Resilient Communities and Urban Innovation.
The RMZF Art program has conducted diverse and dynamic learning public programmes for contemporary art with exhibitions, workshops, curated tours and lecture series, transforming public areas into spectacular and well-loved spaces, where art and culture is imagined, made, and experienced by thousands of people, every day. One such event was the national print making workshop which was an open studio welcoming the public and to witness and learn the art making processes by eminent artists of the country.
RMZ Foundation’s commitment to the arts encompasses over 55 commissioned art installations by globally recognized artists across its flagship properties in Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad, making art accessible to a wider audience. Anu Menda shared her perspective on this collaboration, emphasizing the role of art in preserving cultural identity and fostering a relationship between nature and humanity. In conversation with Architecture + Design, she reveals more about the foundation and the role of art in preserving cultural identity and its relationship with nature and humanity:
1. What are some of the key initiatives that RMZ Foundation has undertaken over the last five years to address societal challenges?
RMZ Foundation, established in 2015 and led by Anu Menda, has a multifaceted mission that focuses on empowering society, democratizing art, and supporting communities through innovation, positive change, and sustainable solutions to social and economic challenges, with the ultimate goal of shaping a resilient tomorrow by aligning its efforts with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
RMZ Foundation is deeply committed to nurturing emerging artists and providing them with opportunities to showcase their work on a global platform. We recognize the importance of art in preserving cultural identity, especially in a rapidly evolving world. By offering support to artists, RMZ Foundation aims to bridge the gap between the arts ecosystem and the public, making art more accessible and integrated into society.
The Foundation curates and commissions art installations, such as sculptures and murals, making art accessible to the public and enrich community bonds. The Foundation supports emerging artists, empowers them, and contributes to a thriving art scene. The Foundation is dedicated to sustainability aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, promoting environmental and social responsibility. Collaborating with renowned artists creates accessible art installations, while art-related events foster social interaction, promoting a sense of connection and camaraderie in communities. This year we had our first international initiative in association with Frieze Sculpture to promote public sculpture by female artists.
2. How does RMZ Foundation promote art and culture in public spaces, and can you provide an example of one such initiative?
RMZ Foundation actively promotes art and culture in public spaces by curating and commissioning various art installations, including sculptures, murals, and paintings. With over 55 installations across flagship RMZ properties in cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad, they plan to extend their art outreach in Mumbai, Pune, and Goa by 2025. Notably, RMZ Foundation collaborates with local and emerging artists, exemplified by their partnership with Avinash Kumar, whose mural in Chennai celebrates Tamil Nadu’s vibrant culture, enhancing public spaces and fostering community engagement. Additionally, RMZ Foundation’s collaboration with Nature Morte in showcasing artist Suhasini Kejriwal at Frieze London signifies global recognition of Indian art and its exploration of the relationship between nature and humanity. This marks a significant milestone for Indian art on the global stage.
3. According to you, what is the role of art in preserving cultural identity and its relationship with nature and humanity?
Art is a mirror reflecting the values, beliefs, and enduring traditions of a culture, serving as a guardian of its identity and heritage. It stands as a tangible repository of history, narrating a vivid tale of a culture’s rich legacy for posterity. Nature and humanity provide boundless inspiration for artists, driving their creative expressions. RMZ Foundation, unwavering in its belief in art’s transformative potential, is committed to nurturing a more diverse, inclusive, and sustainable world. The Foundation champions art initiatives that emphasize the importance of cultural preservation, environmental consciousness, and social cohesion.
RMZ Foundation recognizes the profound impact of art on individuals and communities, and its resolute support for initiatives underscores its commitment to these principles. Furthermore, RMZ Foundation fosters social cohesion by highlighting diverse cultural perspectives through art exhibitions and events, promoting unity and cross-cultural understanding. This multi-faceted approach ensures art’s role in preserving culture, nature, and humanity remains robust and impactful.
4. How does RMZ Foundation align its art initiatives with sustainability and environmental goals?
RMZ Foundation’s commitment to sustainability and environmental goals is evident in its art initiatives through responsible practices, support for sustainable art practices, and alignment with broader sustainability principles. By integrating sustainability into its art-related endeavors, the Foundation demonstrates the interconnectedness of art and environmental consciousness, setting an example for the arts community and contributing to a more sustainable future.
5. What are some of the challenges and opportunities associated with maintaining and preserving art and sculpture in outdoor commercial real estate settings, particularly in varying weather conditions?
RMZ Foundation faces both challenges and opportunities in preserving art and sculpture in outdoor built environment settings, particularly in India’s variable weather conditions. Challenges include susceptibility to elements and vandalism, while opportunities involve enhancing aesthetics and promoting community values.
To address these, RMZ Foundation selects durable materials, employs professional installation, conducts regular inspections and cleanings, and implements security measures. Collaborating with local communities through educational programs further ensures the protection of art. It remains dedicated to preserving art in these spaces, enriching public areas for years to come.
6. What are the benefits of RMZ Foundation’s support of Indian artist Suhasini Kejriwal and her participation in Frieze Sculpture 2023 in London?
RMZ Foundation’s endorsement of Indian artist Suhasini Kejriwal and her participation in Frieze Sculpture 2023 in London brings forth a multitude of advantages. It serves as a global platform to amplify Indian contemporary art’s prominence by presenting it at Frieze, exposing it to a diverse and international audience. Furthermore, it cements the bonds between the Indian and global art communities, facilitating collaboration and the exchange of innovative ideas.
For Kejriwal, this support translates into essential project funding, access to invaluable resources and expertise, and an expanded professional network. In essence, RMZ Foundation’s backing fortifies the artist, propels Indian contemporary art, and enriches global art connections. The ‘Garden of Un-Earthly Delights’ series holds particular significance in the contemporary art world. Its exploration of urbanization, environmental changes, and cultural shifts aligns with current global discussions about sustainability, ecology, and the evolving relationship between humans and nature.