October Jam 2013: taking art to the people

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BANGALORE, October 5:  “People interested in graffiti, film photography, short videos, films, poetry, storytelling, save your dates, it’s your festival,” says the festival’s official website of October Jam, 2013, which began on Friday in the city.

Organisers of this 12-day festival of theatre, dance, cinema and music believe that art must be taken out of galleries and museums. The events will be held across the city with the aim of “reclaiming dead, found and empty public spaces in the city”.

What does that mean?

Take for instance, La Jetee and Sans Soleil, the two films of French creative artist Chris Marker which will be screened on October 19 in a tent to “relive the experience of tent cinemas and drive-in theatres” of 1980s Bangalore, says the website.

“We want to have events in parks, open spaces, bus stops…the entire idea is to take art to people while also letting them reclaim public spaces that are becoming increasingly sanitised,” says Ekta Mittal of the media and arts collective Maraa, which is organising the festival.

Stressing that Maraa has always been a collective of politically inclined people, she says the “idea of using public spaces for October Jam was a political decision”. Ms. Mittal says that as public spaces are shrinking in the name of development, people on the fringes are being eliminated in a structured and planned way. “This has been our experience working with street vendors, sex workers, women’s groups…”

“Through this initiative, we open up public spaces for the public and take art to them. Our events are free and anybody can walk in,” says Ram Bhat another member of Maraa. However, every now and again, the event walks to the people. “We had a sound installation in Russell market last year,” says Ekta.

What else? Since subversion is the flavour of the October Jam, Maraa has scheduled a public conversation with film projectionist Ashoka, who has been at it for 25 years, and set designer Lavi Anna at the Alternative Law Forum on Infantry Road. “We’re celebrating 100 years of cinema, aren’t we?” asks Ekta.

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