MURALS OF FEARLESSNESS
Brought together by a common motive, Art Collectives are social movements that battle prejudices and inequalities. Fearless is a South Asia based public arts project that creates space to move from fear to love using participative public art, started by visual artist Shilo Shiv Suleman in 2012. Fearless has worked in over 10 countries, co-creating 38 murals, reclaiming spaces, carving out public depictions of women and their significance in societies around the world– from the small indigenous village of Olivencia colonized by the portuguese in Brazil, to the first known public testament to queer masculinities in Beirut, Lebanon, to the sprawling community of Lyari rift with gang violence in Karachi, Pakistan. Fearless’ work is to show up in spaces of fear, isolation, and trauma and support communities as they reclaim these public spaces with the images and affirmations they choose.
Beginning in 2018, as they dreamed of women on the streets, brushes in their hands, facilitating critical social justice conversations with communities, transforming them into art, and claiming public space. This lead to their dream of the Fearless Residencies, which would help the collective grow out the Fearless Movement across South Asia and beyond.
Having taken place on the 28th of March to the 5th of April, Fearless hosted their first residency in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where they convened with artists from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, for a short intensive artist residency which led to two public murals out on the streets of Colombo, at the Rio Complex and Salvation Army Building, Union Place. These murals will be painted in partnership with two local communities ‘We Are From Here Project' and the Sisterhood Initiative looking at themes of self-representation, interfaith/ cross border solidarity, and what it looks like to build safe, inclusive, feminist spaces - using art. The artists involved in the first leg are, Maham Chirag from Karachi, Gargi Chandola from New Delhi, Dibarah Mehboob from Dhaka, Vicky Shahjehan from Colombo. After this residency the artists will take on the Fearless Methodology they’ve learned and start their own initiatives in their home countries, growing the Fearless movement.
In 2019, ARTRA Magazine featured the ‘We Are From Here’ Project in exploring the dynamism of art and subversive walls. ‘We Are From Here’, a community-based art project initiated by artists Firi Rahman, Vicky Shahjahan and Parilojithan Ramanathan in 2016 conceptualizes a novel narratology of the Slave Island community. We found that the dynamism of their project lies in their ability to subvert the space of a wall into a dynamic medium of art, and in turn, attempt to change the perception the wider society has about Slave Island and its people while celebrating their essence. The project ‘We Are From Here’ began in 2016, when Firi and Vicky realized the need for a sustainable, long-lasting and more importantly, favourable representation of the Slave Island community. By choosing to do portraits of the people of Slave Island, Firi, Vicky and Parilojithan took on the challenge of rewriting the perception of the Slave Island community, creating a unique and dynamic medium of art combining portraiture and street art. ‘We Are From Here’ is a reminder that art is broader than that of the connoisseurs’ gallery, and that with knowledge, passion and technique artists can transform a community, its definition and the wider world’s perception of it. By using the dynamism of portraiture to revive and preserve local heritage, ‘We Are From Here’ by Firi, Vicky, and Parilojithan empowers the Slave Island community with pride and a sense of belonging.
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