By Bhawna Chauhan, Gargi Chanda & Keren Elizabeth Abraham
(Master of Design, National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi)
Vandalism, disrespect, rebellion, a symbol of urban decay, these are few descriptors the vast majority of the population would use for graffiti or Street art, but is graffiti any different than any other art form? Just like any other piece of art, graffiti is an expression. It can easily be argued that graffiti is the biggest art movement ever seen, especially on a global scale. Street art today in a way is allowing people to connect with art and expression on a daily basis, the colourful and beautiful murals painted on walls, trains etc reach out to the public every day.
Art is the highest form of hope, this, I had experienced and realized very young. Pencils, paint brushes and colours have always been close to even when, sometimes, people were not. It was even more fascinating to see art travel from sheets of paper to the huge walls.
Since the inception of the street art festival in Delhi, I wanted to explore the street art through the streets of Delhi capturing the awe through the lens. And then the time came when I had to choose a topic for my major project for photography class.
If Bandra’s charm could be codified, I guess this would be it. Cats and silver leaves—collaborative mural by Anpu Varkey (India) and Tika (Switzerland)
So what happens when 20 internationally renowned street artists from all over the world, and two passionate people from Delhi get together and decide to bring the power of art as a medium of creative expression to the streets of India, free and accessible to all? St+arthappens.
There I was travelling in a Harbour Line local train that hot April afternoon.
I had just woken up from a short nap when the train halted at Cotton Green station. I was still drowsy when the train crossed the beautiful drinking water fountain (that I always look out for whenever I travel by train on this route) just before Reay Road station. I noted that the water fountain was there, a little more decrepit than ever before, a little more lonelier and a… wait a minute… what was the flash of colour on the wall behind the fountain? It looked like graffiti, but I couldn’t be sure.The train had already crossed that patch and was slowing down for its Reay Road station halt.
Unlike countries where street art is infamous, public walls in India get commissioned face-lifts by artists working with Government authorities.
Around 5 years ago, the walls in our cities were covered only with random posters, paan stains, and trails of urine. But that’s changed. Today, you will see art squashed between posters, stains and hawkers; fighting for their space in the sunshine. This modern art form, if I can call it that, stands on the razor’s edge — to one side it is vandalism and to the other it’s about art, conversation, and dialogue.