Last December, spectators gathered in front of the Phoenix Market City mall, Mahadevapura, Bangalore, to witness a special kind of a theatrical performance. Instead of taking to the streets in front of the mall, the artistes had perched themselves on its artificial climbing wall using ropes. Trees had been painted on the wall to symbolise the green that has been replaced by blocks of concrete. Transforming the wall into a stage, experimental theatre artistes Mallika Prasad and Ram Ganesh Kamatham performed sketches that spoke against “mall culture”.
Many more such unusual activities were visible across the city between September and December last year. For instance, artiste Ranjana N, with “wings”, walking on the KR Market Flyover, as a mark of protest against the construction that came up on the flight path of birds. Or artiste Dimple Shah in black, sitting in a corner of a dilapidated building. Her performance was a symbolic mourning for the transformation of the space, from an erstwhile marriage hall, to a structure in two halves due to the construction of a flyover and where migrant labourers sleep.
It was a culmination of Project 560, an initiative of the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) that invited Bangalore-based performance artistes to create art projects by re-imagining found spaces in the city. Now back with its second edition, IFA executive director Arundhati Ghosh says the project stems from the desire to give back to the city.
The second edition is bigger in scale with 10 projects as opposed to six last year, which will be selected and provided a grant of Rs 1.5 lakh each. Each will get three months — from September to November — to create the artworks in their chosen spaces that will culminate in the festival in December. “Many artistes I met in Delhi and Mumbai were keen to apply. Some have spent considerable time in Bangalore, and those who haven’t, have something to say about the city,” says Ghosh.
The deadline for the new edition of Project 560 is June 15. “When I first came to the city in 1996, it would be difficult to spend time on weekends. Now, if I attend one art event, I miss out on several others,” says Ghosh.