St+art India Foundation, with continuing support from Asian Paints and BMC was happy to reveal the murals which were the result of a month long project – ‘Me/We’ in collaboration with Facebook AIR and Bangalore-based artist collective Aravani Art Project. The art works were revealed through an inauguration event and included a showcase of all the outcomes of the workshops with the community. It provided an opportunity for the communitied of Shahu Nagar and Dharavi to come together and celebrate themselves and the murals.
The event commenced with an introductory note by Sadhna Prasad, Co-founder, Aravani Art Project, followed by an interactive panel discussion. The discussion was moderated by Sadhna, and the panelists were represented by different collaborators of ‘Me/We’ including a member from the St+art team, a participant from Sneha foundation and a trans-woman from Aravani Art Project. Touching upon topics of community-living and creating art in public spaces, the discussion also reflected on the collaborators’ on-ground learnings in the past one month.
The panel discussion was followed by a performance by poets from the Anat Collective in Mumbai who performed poetry in Hindi and Marathi. Ms. Varsha Gaikwad’s (Cabinet Minister, Maharashtra) speech addressing the audience followed next. Alongside lauding the core vision of the project she highlighted the importance of acceptance in our lives. After Ms. Gaikwad’s address, four beatboxers from the Dharavi Dream Project put up a performance, followed by a performance by three rappers from ‘Dogz Music’. The last performance of the event was put up by trans-women from the collective, one of whom performed a ‘laavani’ dance, while two others put up a very special ‘Koli dance’ performance.
The event ended with a collective photo session against the backdrop of the Kindness Walls.
Over the past 3 years, St+art has celebrated the power of the city of Mumbai, and Dharavi – its people – by creating an open air gallery in Mahim. Many national and international artists have created works which pay tribute to the everyday citizens of the city, who are its lifeline, and also represent its diversity and energetic spirit.
‘Me/We’, curated by St+art and led by Aravani Art Project marks the very first collaboration between St+art and Facebook AIR(Artist in Residency). Aravani Art Project uses art as a means to shape safe spaces for the transgender community in India, creating large wall mural projects through a participatory approach. In an attempt to adopt newer ways to enable the trans community to reclaim public spaces, ‘Me/We’, for the first time, saw transgender artists from the collective in the role of facilitators for a series of three workshops.
“Facebook supports both internal and external initiatives that facilitate direct engagement with art and design. Artists bring stories to life that inspire a greater understanding of one another and the world we share and we appreciate the commitment of individuals and institutions whose ongoing work brings important human stories to broader publics.”- Facebook AIR.
Mr. Amit Syngle, CEO, Asian Paints Ltd. said, “At Asian Paints, we have always believed that Art wins hearts. Our continued collaboration with St+art India Foundation is a testimony to our belief. With the new project ‘Me/We’, the hope is towards an inclusive art community that is an indelible part of Mumbai’s future.”
Highlighting the importance of engaging with human emotions through a project like ‘Me/We’, Poornima Sukumar, Co-founder, Aravani Art Project said, “We wanted to create genuine friendships, intangible bonds and of course ‘Art’ in a seamless way along with our artist friends from the Transgender community. It’s not about reclaiming a space with a mural, rather encompassing all of its happenings, all day, everyday. The project has left us yearning to know more about how something as delicate as human emotions are built over the strongest circumstances. Dharavi is a never-ending real life novel.”
Elaborating on the unique collaborative nature of the project, Ms. Giulia Ambrogi, Co-founder and Festival Curator, St+art India Foundation said, “St+art in collaboration with Asian Paints and BMC has worked tirelessly over the last three years to build the Mahim (E) Art District, creating artworks that celebrate its people in their strengths and diversity. This edition of the Mahim project cements and furthers our continuing efforts by engaging with different communities of Shahu Nagar in a direct and participative manner. Through workshops, murals and the final launch event, the project aims to speak and sensitize people towards kindness, co-existence and inclusivity – seeking to truly use art as a tool for positive changes.”
As a continuation of the Mahim (E) Art District, this collaboration is a result to repurpose the format of the open-air-gallery to not merely reserve it for Street Art, but open it for interactions that empower our cities by probing and understanding new perspectives and unveiling unheard stories.