Skip to main content

Free art elbows compulsions of commerce: resisting populist trends, capitalist markets

By Gajanan Khergamker 

In London’s multicultural Brixton, a sizeable chunk of the 30-foot-tall Michelle Obama mural remains painted over as Dorrell Place becomes the place for graffiti artists/taggers/scrawlers to showcase their works of art. The homage to the former First Lady of the United States that first appeared on the side of the Marks & Spencer store in October 2018 was the creation of Dreph who made the advert in collaboration with Penguin Random House to promote the publication of Obama’s autobiography ‘Becoming,’ released on 13 November 2018.
Yet, by February 2021 the bottom half was painted over, and in the last couple of years the rest of the mural has dwindled to naught, almost symbolising the triumph of free art over the compulsions of commerce.
One of Dreph’s latest murals depicts Hassan Hajjaj who joined the burgeoning west London immigrant community. He felt very much a foreigner and many of the people he befriended were people who had had a similar journey and shared experiences of being the outsider. In this period, he made a lot of friends, many from the Caribbean, India and Pakistan, and says that they stuck together and looked after one another.
That said, strife is perhaps the most significant commonality in Street Art; and, it’s this strife that is symbolical of the processes even the resistance to populist trends and capitalist markets. In India, the Street Art scenario in financial capital Mumbai, in the absence of creative spunk even controlled by political entities and ‘permitted’ more often than growing organically as in the rest of the world, has failed to impress in comparison.
The two-month long St+art Urban Art Festival for Mumbai’s Sassoon Dock Art Project kickstarted on 11 November 2017 and ran until 30 December 2017 featuring an exhibition of structures and images of workers at India’s first wet dock and the oldest in Mumbai, situated in Colaba.
Pitched as having remained “a forgotten space of Mumbai, only home to the native Kolis living in a world of their own making,” the paintings depicted Kolis, a community that has grown organically even before the formation of Mumbai and live and work in the sea on the ‘other side’ of Colaba at Machchimar Nagar, having poor little to do with the trade at Sassoon Docks.

Glossing over details to fact, flavour

Sassoon Docks instead, is a commercial venture with docks where fish are cleaned, packed and exported to markets across the world. The Sassoon Docks provides livelihood for a range of communities from across India, apart from Kolis, who, at best, buy the fish locally for sale in markets in suburban Mumbai. The depiction in the Street Art seemed way off the mark and the local flavour and details to facts, sadly amiss.
In the same year, under an initiative of St+art Foundation, Asian Paints and Western Railways, a mural depicting Mahatma Gandhi exiting a train was created by Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra at South Mumbai’s Churchgate Railway Station. A structural audit of the façade, even declared it fit during an inspection in 2018. However, a part of the cladding of the 81 ft x 54 ft mural broke loose during a cyclone in 2019 and fell on a 62-year-old pedestrian, killing him. The entire façade including the painting was ultimately brought down by the Western Railways.
“I have been painting nature, architecture, and local heritage on walls and in public spaces across the city,” says self-taught artist Sapna Patil who has been involved with painting real-life thematic images in and around Mumbai. Sapna is known for her painting of a seemingly-real train across an erstwhile paan-stained wall at Badhwar Park, in what was earlier a rather drab-looking passage, connecting South Mumbai’s Fourth Pasta Lane to Machchimar Nagar on the other side of the zone and passing through a Railway Colony.
Her detailed depiction of the ‘train’, complete with windows, bars, steps even handles is exquisite. “I wish I get more opportunities to paint about issues that affect people too,” she says. Sapna Patil’s works are an integral part of the Changing Colours of Colaba where public walls are given colourful make-overs through strategic paintings depicting the zone’s architecture and life.
The Badhwar Park ‘unsafe as ever’ passage that would lie in darkness, for over decades, even during the day, strewn with beggars, drug addicts and lumpen elements, has been transformed with ‘train’ and a surge of passers-by cannot help but stop by to take in the glory of the real-as-life painting. With scores stopping and shooting selfies in the zone against the backdrop of the ‘train’, the transformation of the stretch has been nothing short of magical.
On similar lines is the work of Chandigarh’s Sachita Aditi Sharma now based out of Himachal Pradesh in North India. After having painted “an entire village in Punjab to inspire villagers and show them a life that goes beyond drugs, walls in Goa even at venues in Hyderabad," Sachita now works across India.
“I’ve cleaned little corners and walls in cities strewn with garbage and excreta and created works of art,” says Sachita who feels the entire ordeal of ‘getting permissions’ from local administration which is either inaccessible or simply not keen to comply, defeats the purpose of beautifying public zones.
Delhi-based artist and President Awardee Roop Chand feels the potential of artists being able to tap on public sentiment and educate masses has not been utilised to its fullest potential. Why, he feels that something as simple as propping up a social message on a brightly-painted waste-bin in a public place may make all the difference. “I have done it personally and seen it work. People actually stop, read and take in the message,” he says. (Part 4 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

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

- हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे*  15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

Only 15% businesses provide employees real-time sustainability dashboards: Study

Kyndryl in collaboration with Microsoft has released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm, finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data. A Kyndryl note: *** Kyndryl (NYSE: KD), the world’s largest IT infrastructure services provider, in collaboration with Microsoft , today released the findings of The Global Sustainability Barometer study. The study, conducted by Ecosystm , finds that while 85% of organizations place a high strategic level of importance on achieving their sustainability goals, only 16% have integrated sustainability into their strategies and data.

Tamil Nadu brahmins are at cross roads, their future scenario remains uncertain

By NS Venkataraman*  For over 70 years now, brahmin community in Tamil Nadu have been abused, insulted and even physically attacked on some occasions by those who claimed that they were part of the so called dravidian movement. However, brahmin community silently and helplessly ducked under pressure and showed no signs of resistance or fight back.

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

Birth of New Communist Party ushers in new epoch in Canada's Left history

By Harsh Thakor  On January 31, 2024, history was made with the formation of the (New) Communist Party of Canada (the (N)CPC), the successful completion of its Founding Congress, and the public release of its Political Program. A most sporadic development in turning course of Communist movement locally, and worldwide. It also pits a challenge to dogmatism or mechanical approach and stagnation. taps the revolutionary creativity of the masses and is major re-orientation towards shaping revolutionary class struggles and  the massline.

Ethiopian ruling classes, political masters in West have their hands soaked in blood

By Harsh Thakor  Over two hundred were killed in recent weeks in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Amhara region. After peace-talks between the Oromo Liberation Army and the Ethiopian government did not materialise tensions are escalating in the Oromia region. Earlier, on November 22, least 25 civilians were massacred in a government aerial drone strike, in Chawaka districts of the Buno Bedelle zone. This incident took place only two days after a fierce battle arose between the OLA and governmental troops in the Sulula Fincha district of the Horro Guduru Wollega zone.

Landslide early warning system: Odisha Govt, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham collaborate

By Divya Saini  In a strategic move to mitigate the impact of landslides during storms, the Odisha government in collaboration with Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is gearing up to establish a user-friendly Landslide Early Warning System (EWS) in Gajapati district. This initiative aims to provide advanced information, especially regarding landslides caused by disturbances in the natural stability of a slope.

Violent incidents in Haldwani: CPDRS on dubious role of Uttarakhand government

By DN Rath  Center for Democratic Rights and Secularism (CPDRS) unequivocally condemns the dubious role of Uttarakhand Government and its administration in the incidents that happened in Haldwani of Nanital district of the state.

A third view of Islamic paradox: Can Muslim unity defeat Zionist evil regime’s injustice?

By Chandra Vikash*  Could India, as a mirror to the ethno-federal One State solution, play a key role in resolving the Palestinian genocide crisis, that has emerged in the global consciousness as a focal point for injustice of centuries-old settler-colonialism project that continues to spread its hydra-headed tentacles through globalisation of this Old World Order?