By Saqlain Beig
Srinagar– A once bland and unassuming wall of a building on the road at Jahangir Chowk has turned into a breathtaking awe grabber in the form of an intriguing and meaningful mural painting, thanks to the unwavering creativity of artists from The Fearless Collective. Located exactly near Hari Singh High Street, the mural is pretty large, and catches one’s attention from afar. In a very artistic and aesthetic manner, the artwork depicts the independent and talented women artisans of Kashmir.
Fearless Collective is an international organisation popular for doing public interventions in the form of creating such murals and artworks in an activistic approach. Fearless does this while representing communities that they feel have a need to be spoken about. The website of the organisation mentions that they “believe that given the ugliness of oppressions we fight, the creation of beauty is an act of resistance”. Internationally, the mural in progress at Jahangir Chowk is the organisation’s 51st such project.
Zoya Khan, an architect and a city planner who is also the in-charge of the mural, mentioned that this project is quite different from other such displays in Kashmir because it represents and comes from the community itself, talking about the experiences and aspirations of the set of people that it depicts. She said that the primary idea of Fearless in these initiatives is to create something beautiful and catchy; which, by grabbing the attention of the people passing by, makes the message of the artwork come to light, engraving it into peoples’ memories. Regarding the fact that the mural depicts Kashmiri women artisans, She added that, people on the other side of things usually prejudge or assume stuff about these artisans’ struggles, way of life and feelings; and this project acts as a medium and aid to the pursuit of these people of being depicted the way they want to be perceived amongst the masses. She highlighted that while talking to these women artisans in person, they mentioned that they’ve been doing what they do for years without any change, and that they now feel like their popularity within the market has been dull in recent years. The project, addressing this problem as well, helps promote the craft of these women and act as a showcase to their abilities
In a tone of apparent gratitude, Zoya added that she must thank and give full credit to the Department of Handicrafts and the Director of Estates as they were the ones to facilitate the project. The Department of Handicrafts has helped getting in touch with the artisans in the first place and with the permission for the project, while the Director Estates provided them with the building the project is now being made on.
The artwork is on a path to be one that has the potential to not only turn into a major landmark of the city, but one that would influence the scene of graffiti and street on productive and cultural themes art among the youth and new-coming creative professionals.
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