Stuart Freedman: The Palaces of Memory

The Palaces of Memory presents Freedman’s photographs taken between 2010–2013 of some of the most iconic Indian Coffee Houses across the country. Documenting the architecture and interiors of the coffee shops—which are found in different places, from the tops of shopping malls to art deco buildings—the series also highlights that these once-thriving cafes are increasingly threatened in a commercialised world of western franchises.

Apart from capturing the spaces themselves, Freedman’s photographs also provide a window into the coffee shop culture inherent in these establishments across different cities: “It made me realise that the world was not strange and different, but very much the same all over. People have the same dreams and aspirations all over the world and the coffee house was a place where they’d come and sit and watch the world go by.” Apart from including several additional images from the series, the accompanying publication also features an introduction by Amit Chaudhuri and an essay by Freedman.

A somewhat personal tribute to to the institution of the Indian Coffee House, these photographs encapsulate the unique atmosphere of these “palaces of memory” that seem as if frozen in time with their largely unchanged decor. Freedman writes: “People in India really cherish the coffee houses—they are a kind of aide-memoire to a fondly remembered post-independence past, but we all forget what’s around us and its importance. I hope that these images will make people remember and revisit the coffee houses. I want people to connect to them, and for people in other countries to take a peek into these fascinating places, too.”


Exhibition Schedule


13 October - 27 October 2017

National Institute of Design
PG Campus, Gandhinagar
Gujarat 382007
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 4 to 8pm


16 November - 16 December 2017

Sua House
26/1 Kasturba Cross Road
Bangalore 560001
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5:30pm