Graffiti happens to be one of my favorite art forms. And I must admit that I have admired it long enough to know the constant conflict that street or graffiti artists and government authorities face, and yet I’m happy to actually see it emerge in India, and where else first but Mumbai.
Now before you judge me, let me be very clear that I do not support vandalism of any kind at all. What I do support is this art form in its entirety. Graffiti or other forms of street art are in my opinion just that what our too-busy-to-find-art-in-everyday-things city needs.
Well if the government really thinks it’s filthy to have the graffiti all over their trains, and decides it’s against the law, I accept. Though I would highly recommend we get citizens to vote and I have a hunch most will prefer it to the pornographic texts or numbers of spiritual healers often scribbled on local trains.
Don’t you think the scores of abandoned buildings, cars and bikes, broken bridges and statues that abound in Mumbai could use a spunky new makeover? Wouldn’t you like to walk by your office one morning and notice the old abandoned car lying in your compound or the broken sidewall at the railway station has suddenly transformed into a vibrant canvas and someone’s vivid imagination has just given you something new to think about today… a cryptic message that plays at the back of your mind while you go about your work, wondering what the artist tried to say… or a moving image that makes you stop and wonder… I think I would. Enough of the grey already!
In countries where street art has become conspicuous, it continues to be a mirror of the times, a reflection of the struggles and passions, successes and joys of its people. Like time itself, street art is forever transient and shifting. As people come and go, look and observe, touch and tear, it forever evolves. Before you know it some kid has run his scratching weapon across the painted car or the coloured wall has posters smothered all over it. And that’s the beauty of it.
Are we ready to open our minds to what might be the only art that is accessible to everyone, everyday through the streets and not kept protected in museums?
The Wall Project introduced graffiti and street art in India in an organized manner through their project. Hundreds of people gathered on the stretch of road from Mahim to Lower Parel in 2009 and covered the walls with color and mud and glass and turned the dilapidated wall into a work of art. It was a tremendous and laudable effort to do something as massive as this and the gorgeous wall made for my favorite subject to click during those few and far between days when I got off early from work.
But graffiti has a defiant soul, and while I respect any and every effort to promote street art, I suspect that graffiti will find its own wings and its unique expression in the most unsuspecting places and most unexpected times. I cannot deny I’m curious as a cat to see where it will be seen next in Mumbai.
If you spot street art in Mumbai, shoot it and share it with MumbaiMag, I’d love to know when and where and how! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are some of the pictures I clicked on the Mahim to Lower Parel stretch.
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