Published: 18th August 2017
The sky is the limit: The Open Sky Slam is a space for anyone with a little poetry in them
The collective of artists that was formed in 2015 has grown across the country and over borders
In early 2015, Shaun D'Souza and his friend Tim Lo Surdo decided to climb up to the terrace of his house to enjoy each other's art. Shaun, a poet and performer, did not realise that this idea would grow to shake the poetry scene in Bangalore through the name, Open Sky Slam (OSS).
As the number of people grew, new forms of art and artists would join in . For Shruthi Mohan, a new audience member in the third session, it was an idea worth spreading. "Here was a sacred space where everyone could feed off of each other's art. Random performers would join in for every new session. It like a low-key carnival for those of us who were a part of it!"she remembers.
Here was a sacred space where everyone could feed off of each other's art. Random performers would join in for every new session. It like a low-key carnival for those of us who were a part of it!
Shruthi Mohan, Head, Open Sky Slam
Today, Shruthi is the Head of OSS with Deepten Anand and Nalin Vyas. The collective has gone on to associate itself with over 800 artists from across the country. However, she says that it continues to feel as close and personal as it did the first time. "We work in non-traditional spaces with no elevated platforms, where anyone, even passers by can join in. It all began with a terrace, we've gone on to transform rescue homes, old-age facilities and people's homes into our stage," she says.
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The Open Sky Slam has branched out into Chennai, Hyderabad, Kozhikode, and Mumbai. They have also organised collaborations with artists from Pakistan and Australia, in addition to organising major poetry and art events across the country.
Prem Sylvester, the City Coordinator for the Chennai Chapter, says "It was with Open Sky that Slam culture really made its way into the city. We have become quite a diverse group because we have space for all kinds of people. And it's always been casual, you can make mistakes and people will keep rooting for you..."
It was with Open Sky that Slam culture really made its way into the city. We have become quite a diverse group because we have space for all kinds of people
Prem Sylvester, City Coordinator, Open Sky Slam Chennai
On 15th August, the collective is organising 'Project Azadi', a cross border initiative that hopes to promote a dialogue between people across borders. People will be encouraged to contribute with paintings, poetry and music to merge cultures and ideals. With his sense of unity, it's not difficult to remember that it all started with two friends keeping each other company.