Off the beaten path is an oft-heard phrase in the corridors of artistic endeavor; art the omnipresent agent of change is synonymous with movements that break away from the mainstream and carve their own space. Avant-garde, a French term meaning radically new or original, was one such cultural mobilization where music, literature, and arts coalesced to produce ingenious work at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The gathering of a group of youngsters almost a hundred years later to celebrate “Avant Garde”, a cultural program organized by the School of Graduate Studies, Jain (Deemed-to-be University), is a testimony to the longevity of inventive ideas and their power to influence. True to the name of the event, these students put on a seamless freewheeling performance that celebrated the essence of moving away from the ordinary.
Conceived by the UG Department of English, Jain (Deemed-to-be University), the event was a melting pot of languages and culture. It witnessed performances in Kannada, Bhojpuri, Hindi, Malayalam, and English connected by the common thread of art forms like dance, poetry, and music. The first performer of the day was Shilok Mukkati, a transgender, who danced to the poem “Kathalla Lokadha Kinnararu”, which when translated means eunuch of the dark.
“It is my own creation and it narrates the travails faced by a transgender who demands dignity and equal rights. Through platforms like these, we can reach out to the members of LGBT who are afraid to come out in the open and state their identity. Jain (Deemed-to-be University) (Top private Universities in Bangalore) has been very open in this regard and my teachers have never alienated me on the basis of my identity,” explained Shilok, a BA student from Jain (Deemed-to-be University).
“Service before self,” said the caption of a pencil sketch drawn by aspiring artist Mayank Agarwal. Mayank was inspired by the slam poetry rendition by his peer Rahul Khanshetty on patriotism and drew the sketch spontaneously to convey that emotion. Sharanya Prakash, another BA student of the University was excited to be part of such a unique event.
“Transgender, sex, politics, you name it and this program had it. There was no cap on performances and the participants could improvise on the go and experiment with forms. For example, a fusion music performer could mix a western musical form like the Blues with our own desi Dappan Koothu. That is the kind of creativity we had throughout the day,” said Sharanya.
Dr. Sreedevi Santhosh, a lecturer at the Department of English, and one of the chief coordinators of the event was in a jubilant mood as almost forty students from different colleges in Bangalore turned up for participating in the event. “Students from Mount Carmel, St. Joseph’s, and Christ University came for the event apart from our own students who participated. Events like these help the faculty members too, to strategize and make the classroom environment more interesting for the students,” she said.
Apart from the students, Open Sky Slam, an alumni group of students from the J C Road Campus of the University performed their poems and entertained the audience.