Skip to main content

Belonging to masses, Street Art stands tall as testament to protestors' collective voice

By Gajanan Khergamker 

Street Art has origins from a time we are yet to fathom and, in time, discover. Limited as we are by man-made language, nomenclature, and terminology besides the means so simplistic and apparent like paper and other media, like say walls, Art, and in particular, Street Art, is an extension of that what can be generated on traditional medium but extends to public spaces.
On the European front, skewedly propagated as a world platform, it was in the French Revolution’s iconoclasm era, when rebels defaced high-end art to protest French society’s toxic hierarchy creating a niche called graffiti that became synonymous with vandalism. It was the waves of political and economic turbulence that triggered the rise of street art around the world: The Berlin Wall's ‘one-sided’ graffiti being projected as a fight of colourful expression on one side versus the stark totalitarianism of bland emptiness on the other being a rather simplistic definition.
So, French Street Artist James Colomina's installation of Vladimir Putin in Central Park in early August 2022, five months after the Ukraine war started, was predictably bold in both its content and process. The artist who does not reveal himself because most of his installations "are unauthorised," is "already facing problems with the authorities." Ironically the installation, bold as it was, appeared in New York City of the United States of America where, according to a recent Data USA study, 85.4 per cent of archivists, curators, and museum technicians were White and the next most common ethnicity (Hispanic White) clocked in at a mere five per cent.
The statistics conveniently exclude those who do not “fit in” with them. Technically, and those valued, artists are predominantly White men, with 85.4 per cent of works in all major US museums belonging to White artists, 87.4 per cent by men. The diversity is not much greater for museums that specialise in modern art. At the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, for example, only 11 per cent of the artists in the collection are female, 10 per cent are Asian, and two per cent are black or African-American. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 18 per cent of the artists are female, seven per cent Asian, and two per cent black or African-American.

Wealthy patrons decide merit of art

It is the acute dearth of public funding owing to which museums and galleries are forced to rely on the wealthy patrons sitting on their executive boards to influence what art is “worthy” for public display. In October 2019, a New York Times analysis revealed that 40 per cent of museum trustees are Wall Street tycoons revealing that control on high-end art world isn't merely determined by if a trustee is wealthy, but also where they derive their wealth from.
Street Art is different. And what makes Street Art this way is its ability to steer clear, well mostly, of political influence and economic compulsions. What binds Street Art and its proponents across the world is the 'unauthorised' nature of its existence and populist accolades derived from swimming against the current. James Colomina's installations are a case in point. And, James, on his part, is clear with his modus operandi. "I'm not really afraid of the authorities. It's a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. You must not get caught otherwise the installation is ruined," he says gleefully.
James' last installation in Berlin where he installed a sculpture of a little girl going over the wall and another above the railway tracks caused quite a flurry. The authorities had to close the tracks for two hours to remove the sculpture.
"Why, even train-drivers slowed down as they approached the sculpture. They thought it was a real child," he recalls with relish. Another facet of Street Art is that it must not, ordinarily, always be liked or be popular. "A lot of people don't like me, but that's okay. It's even so much the better. It would bother me to please everyone. I try to tell the truth with my sculptures and sometimes it hurts," he says.

Art can be politically incorrect, hurt too

Much on the lines of James’ installation in New York City's Central Park, a thousand odd miles away in South Minneapolis, atop the Cup Foods convenience store, where a 911 call led to George Floyd's police killing, today stands a hoarding complete with memorial art. This one, as opposed to Putin’s, for sure, is not as popular.
Local illustrator, muralist and teacher Melodee Strong created 'Mama' after George Floyd's dying plea, depicting grieving black mothers, against a backdrop of the US flag. "I am a mother, and when George cried out for his 'mama' as he was taking his last breaths, I also cried," revealed Strong adding, "That's what we do when we are in trouble or scared, we cry out for God or our mothers. My son has been harassed and mistreated by the police. I have witnessed numerous times how the people I love have been abused by police. The anguish we feel from the fear and the experiences of those too many incidences is what I feel in the faces I painted… Even though this piece is about George Floyd, it's more a dedication to all the mothers who have lost their child to police violence." Melodee’s cry resonates with those of mothers across the world and how.
Predictably, following Black Lives Matter protests erupting in cities, large corporations all around the country responded by nailing plywood across their doors and massive windows, to deter the possibilities of violent interludes. Street Art, however, finds its own way to meander in and register protest across public walls…peacefully.
Political graffiti, as critical intervention in urban space, is faced with legislative opposition as municipalities and police attempt to shut down the streets and the protests therein. Yet, even after protests end, it's the Street Art in the form of graffiti that stands tall as a testament to the protestors' collective voice. It is, today through social media that belongs to the masses instead of selective and controlled fora, that protests get documented and become a part of history. (Part 1 of 6 | To Be Continued)
---
This report is part of The Art Of Cause Project - a DraftCraft International initiative that documents Art Projectsand Street Art campaigns that reach out, rectify and resolve strife, across the world

Comments

TRENDING

Clive Lloyd among great batsmen Alan Border, Javed Miandad, Rahul Dravid,Ted Dexter

By Harsh Thakor  Few batsmen struck a cricket ball with such vengeance or contempt as Clive Lloyd, who was the ultimate embodiment of power. Perhaps no left-hander batted more like Gary Sobers. Hard to think of any left hander in is time, with such wide range of strokes or at best batting in a more cavalier or imperious manner. At his best Clive could take domination to the scale rarely transcended and was a spectacle to witness.. It is hard to do justice to the joy Clive radiated out on the middle. Clive Lloyd nurtured and knitted a bunch of talented individuals to transform into possibly the best test team ever in the 1980's.Literally led a renaissance or gave a new dimension to Caribbean cricket. Never did West Indian cricket nurture such father figure.  Clive made a great contribution in elevating the morale or epitomising the spirit of the Afro-American West Indian Community and image of black people in the eyes of the white Community. As a cricketer he gave the ultimate knock

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h