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St+art India 2016, Bengaluru brings social discourse to street art:A glimpse into St+art India's initiative to colour the city with its inspirational graffitis, vibrant stencil work, sign paintings and progressive street art movements.

Sameer Kulavoor for St+art India: BLR

The Kempegowda Metro Station, considered the nucleus of Bengaluru transit, will undergo a makeover courtesy of one of Bombay’s best - Sameer Kulavoor. (Photo © Akshat Nauriyal)

© Pranav Gohil

© Akshat Nauriyal

Shilo Shiv Suleman for St+art India: BLR

22nd October 2016: Shilo paid a visit to the Flower Market inside the KR Market in old Bangalore. Here she spent time interacting with the flower vendors there. After a discussion about gender roles and its effect on our society, Shilo took feedback about her mural, which she will be painting inside the market for #startblr. (Photo © Akshat Nauriyal)

© Akshat Nauriyal

© Sameer Raichur

Passing these streets and walking by the walls that are now splashed with stories, adds a new dimension to the cognitive maps that we’ve built over years of inhabiting these spaces. The next time someone asks for a landmark, these walls – symbols of reclaiming our public spaces again will be signifiers in the ways we identify and reimagine these neighbourhoods.

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Lab 25 Feb 2017

St+art-ing an art explosion in the city: The Bangalore Edition

Cutting into the sea of concrete and expanding landscapes, St+art India made its way to Bengaluru’s streets for the first time to layer the walls with colours. Bringing murals, installations, performances, talks and screenings to the city, they created narratives in collaboration with artists that intertwined local tales with varying visual styles. Illustrious artists Shilo Shiv Suleman and Sameer Kulavoor worked on enormous murals in locations significant to the city’s history as Bengaluru opened its walls to a fresh makeover.

When St+art India decided to step into Bengaluru with their paint buckets and brushes, people stuck in the city’s never-ending traffic jams bubbled with excitement. October 2016 was not just like any other month in Bengaluru. While people rushed to sit behind their computer screens every morning, artists made their way from across the world to fill the roads with a multitude of colours and concepts. Signature to the city, gusts of cool winds and happy passersby kept them company as they turned the streets into open-air art galleries.

St+art India 2016, Bengaluru brings social discourse to street art:A glimpse into St+art India's initiative to colour the city with its inspirational graffitis, vibrant stencil work, sign paintings and progressive street art movements.

Sameer Kulavoor for St+art India: BLR

The Kempegowda Metro Station, considered the nucleus of Bengaluru transit, will undergo a makeover courtesy of one of Bombay’s best - Sameer Kulavoor. (Photo © Akshat Nauriyal)

The Bangalore leg of the edition saw a collaboration with ‘Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.’ Recognized by their constant efforts to engage with public spaces around the city, the ‘Art in Transit’ program is a public art initiative that hopes to strike a dialogue about the vision and experience of the city, specifically working with the Metro transit system and Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation. A relatively new leaf to Bengaluru’s public transport and cityscape, the metro station became the central connect and a starting point to make art accessible to commuters. However, branching out from there, the curators also narrowed down on similar locations that collect a throng of heterogeneity.

© Akshat Nauriyal

Shilo Shiv Suleman for St+art India: BLR

22nd October 2016: Shilo paid a visit to the Flower Market inside the KR Market in old Bangalore. Here she spent time interacting with the flower vendors there. After a discussion about gender roles and its effect on our society, Shilo took feedback about her mural, which she will be painting inside the market for #startblr. (Photo © Akshat Nauriyal)

In the gut of Bengaluru’s busiest streets stands Krishna Rajendra Market (KR Market), the city’s largest wholesale commodity market known to be a flower jungle. Making it home for 7 days, Shilo Shiv Suleman spent hours with flowers around her hair and shoulders, having conversations with resident vendors to understand the locality. Known for her work in the discourses of gender and identity, Shilo Shiv Suleman’s discussions with the flower sellers focused on questioning the role of gentleness and kindness within public space. Can gender roles be interchangeable? Does selling flowers everyday make one gentler? The mural came together gradually over woven flowers and changing dialogues as women climbed the scaffolding, painting for long hours and men twirled garlands around their wrists.

© Akshat Nauriyal

© Sameer Raichur

Starkly different from the sunny colours of the flower market, Sameer Kulavoor, Mumbai-based visual artist and founder of Bombay Duck Designs spent 10 days taking in the visual chaos at the heart of the Bengaluru transit. Kempegowda Metro Station located in proximity to Majestic market was a great channel to understanding the space, so Kulavoor and his team doodled and wandered around while breathing the sights, sounds and flavours of the market. Sketches on loose paper turned into magical elements of the Magnetic Majestic mural. Combining interactions with passersby, acute observations from architecture and taking pages out of history, the colossal mural dipped in effervescent blue and white, lines the walls of Majestic, telling the tales of dwellers.

Passing these streets and walking by the walls that are now splashed with stories, adds a new dimension to the cognitive maps that we’ve built over years of inhabiting these spaces. The next time someone asks for a landmark, these walls – symbols of reclaiming our public spaces again will be signifiers in the ways we identify and reimagine these neighbourhoods.

While visitors to KR Market stop, smell the jasmine and look around for the freshest flowers, two men surface from a veil of petals with their fingers knotting a garland. In a city where hoardings are worshipped with pasted photographs of actors, the gigantic wall featuring two men with unfamiliar faces representing the locals of the market, strikes a stimulating conversation about the hands that thread flowers at the market every sunrise. But at Kempegowda Metro Station, characterized by Majestic’s fast paced vehicles, walks and commodities, everyday commuters have only transient moments to scan the mural, digesting new visuals each time, engaging with it constantly as they go by with their daily humdrums. 

Passing these streets and walking by the walls that are now splashed with stories, adds a new dimension to the cognitive maps that we’ve built over years of inhabiting these spaces. The next time someone asks for a landmark, these walls – symbols of reclaiming our public spaces again will be signifiers in the ways we identify and reimagine these neighbourhoods. Do these spaces accurately represent the way the public experiences them? Who controls these spaces? What constitutes the public? Pushing past the aesthetic, these localities also become ways to visually narrate and connect such civic issues, community displacement and city aspirations.

Driven by Bengaluru’s lifestyle, St+art India’s aim was not only to splatter the city with colours but to also start a discussion with the everyday commuter who spends hours passing empty walls through various streets. Whether it was Serbian artist Artez’s interpretation of Cubbon Park or Daku’s stencils that cropped up with relevant messages across the city, St+art’s first steps across Bengaluru rekindled lost exchanges about a swarm of topics under the canopy of trees that keep the city blooming and visitors coming back for more.

For more information on St+art India Festivals visit http://www.st-artindia.org. Stay tuned for a detailed piece on St+art Hyderabad 2016 and read about St+art Delhi 2016 here.

Cover Image © Sameer Kulavoor.