Shahpur Jat is an urban village in South Delhi that can be regarded as representative of the larger economic disparity that exists in 'globalised' Indian cities. It is a densely populated community, almost hidden between two extremely posh localities. The outer perimeter of the village now boasts of bars, cafes and designer boutiques, while the interior still has hole-in-the-wall enterprises, historically inhabited by the rural Jat community.
The st+art Delhi street art festival was organised in January and February 2014, and brought artists from cross the country and the world to New Delhi. The festival aimed at working with the support of local communities and sought permissions from residents to let artists paint on their walls. The engagement between the community and the artists led to some truly unique interactions. In the photo: German stencil artist Foe's piece on a wall in Shahpur Jat.
Indian artist Anpu's ‘Cat' was one of the first finished pieces of the festival. In subsequent days, it became a local landmark within the village. Directions were now being given in relation to the cat - the building owners felt a sense of pride living in the building adorned such.
Up until the time the cat was made, locals were hesitant about giving walls because they were not really sure of what street art was all about. Post-Cat though, things changed significantly with more locals offering their walls to paint on. By end of the festival there were more than 20 pieces painted all across the village, some even inside houses.
There was a lot of curiosity amongst the locals - especially the youth - who were particularly drawn towards this new activity taking place in their neighbourhood. They would often congregate while the artists were painting, asking them questions and offering help.
Tofu (in photo) got several cups of free chai (tea) from the local vendor opposite his wall.
A lot of the walls came in the form of a barter. The wall owners would permit artist to paint, but in return they would often ask for a piece in return. Inkbrushnme's piece (left) was in return of a mural of Lord Hanuman. Yantr's piece (right) was supported with a mural of a scene from the epic Mahabharat.
Watch Anpu, Harsh Kadam and Tofu explore Shahpur Jat in this Week 1 recap of the festival
Alina (Denmark) painted this piece on the wall of a jewellery store in a busy part of the village. A crowd would often assemble to watch as she painted, to the joy of the shop owners who really liked Alina's style. It also went well with their clientele (mostly women) so it even made great “marketing sense" (as quoted by the owner of the shop).
“Shahpur Jat is chaos. It's like a maze, and there are these places here that you wouldnt imagine exist. So for you to come in here and try to find these pieces, will be a game in itself.”
- Harsh Raman
The aim of the festival is to closely work with government bodies to enhance neglected public spaces in order to make them more attractive for use. These included public toilets and garbage collection centres.
ANO (Taiwan) spent a good few hours, first cleaning this public toilet from the outside, before painting his ravens's on it. (left)
Daku (India)'s piece at a garbage disposal centre which is a clever play of words in the hindi language. 'Daku' read in reverse is 'Kuda' which is a hindi word for 'garbage'. (right)
“Not everyone will get it, but there is a message of empowering women - giving them respect and security. They should be free, you know.”
- Sergeo (Brazil)
“I saw the cat and I really liked it. I like the other piece's also. It is just our piece that I don't like”, said the lady on seeing Tofu's striped piece on the wall of her house.
She went on to add “No no..It's not like that actually, we like this too - it's just more like modern art, that's all.”
Meet Harsh Raman (India), Sergio (Brazil), Alina (Denmark), Tona (Germany), Tones (Taiwan), Ranjit Dhaiya (Mumbai), PCO (New Delhi), Alias (Germany), Foe (Germany) in this Week 2 video of the festival
German artist Bond was walking around Shahpur Jat looking for walls when he met a kid whose uncle ran a primary school in the village and was offered a wall there. Since it was a school, Bond decided to use the opportunity to paint the alphabet set in his own style.
Andy Yen (Taiwan) began working on Tofu's original site (below) which is now completely transformed. (right)
Mattia Lullini's (Italy) piece had mixed interpretations within the community. Some locals thought of it as an ice cream, others as intestines. There was also one particular gentleman who thought it was a portrait of Indian God Lord Ganesh who has an elephant like trunk.
“The way Shahpur Jat is built , with narrow lanes and tall vertical structures - there are parts where when you look up and you cant even see the clouds. Hence I wanted to make something that would remind residents of a cloud, even if they can't see it.”
- Amitabh Kumar ( India )
Watch the week 3 video featuring Bond (Germany), Mattia Lullini (Italy), Andy Yen, Amitabh Kumar and more.
Curator — Akshat Nauriyal
Ano's Image — Ricky
Harsh Kadam image — Harsh Kadam
All other images — Akshat Nauriyal
Films — www.nowdelhi.tv