Performing artists choose public spaces to reach common man in Bengaluru

Theatre in a music venue,  art in a metro station, music bands performing in malls — performers and artists are engaging with public spaces in Bengaluru to reach out to a larger audience

Over the last few years, artists, institutes and theatre practitioners have taken their work out of mainstream spaces and into unconventional venues, bringing colour and character to the cityscape. This shows how art is breaking the shackles of convention. Alternative spaces are more affordable, partnerships between public and private organisations have led to major performances and projects, and by moving out of intimidating galleries and auditoriums, art and performances are becoming more accessible to a larger audience. The recently-concluded India Foundation for the Arts Project 560, a found spaces festival, comes to mind when one thinks of committed engagement with the community and the city. Six IFA grantees this year, presented their installations and performances across various localities, such as Chickpet, Gandhi Bazar, Kasturba Road, Malleswaram, and Vidhana Veedhi.

The Art-in-Transit Project, an outcome of collaboration between Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation, has over 30 artworks by 150 students on display, ranging from life-like installations and interactive art work to furniture, charcoal portraits of security guards, and awe-inspiring murals on the walls of the open-air station.

The ‘art station’ came alive through walks at the station and on the trains. The students’ intensive Metro-Artwork over a year, engaging with the community of Peenya, which has seen a transition from being ragi fields to an industrial area, brings to the fore the need for art to reach out to the community within its location. The exhibition is on view on December 18 at 11.30 a.m.

Performance arts collective Sandbox Collective, in a little over two years, has taken theatre to the people, and expanded the creative boundaries of performance. Nimi Ravindran, who co-founded Sandbox Collective with Shiva Pathak, says this year they located several new venues.

“We have had performances once, sometimes twice, in The Humming Tree in Indiranagar, which is a music venue.”
“They have worked with us to make it a performance space.”

IIHS, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, though a national education institution, has opened their doors to Sandbox. “We were the first to perform there, and create a programme every month.

At Beagle’s Loft too we have had some activity, either a performance or a discussion, every month.” They have even held performances at RBANMS school auditorium, at Hippocampus, Koramangala, among others.

“There was a lady who has a garage space in Yelahanka, she wanted us to perform there. So we held Koogu there.”

But she points out that Sandbox doesn’t have a strict mandate that they will only host performances at alternative spaces.

“We want to find as many spaces as possible. Be it alternative or regular.” NUMA, located on Church Street, though set up primarily for corporate events, had hosted a performance, NDLS by Delhi-based Tadpole Repertory. “The space can accommodate 150 people. We had a performance by Tadpole Repertory from Delhi there,” says Nimi.

Even malls, at times, host meaningful events. Phoenix Marketcity in Whitefield has seen musicians from every genre perform. Shashie Kumar, President South, Phoenix Group, Retail says they want to be a community centre, going beyond being a shopping mall.

“We have facilities where we can conduct such events. This year, personalities such as Lucky Ali, Shaan and Kay Kay Menon performed. Papon and East India Company’s performance was very successful, and so was the performance by Thaikkudam Bridge, a band from Kerala.”

Source : The Hindu

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