‘Lekin yeh toh India mein shayad pehli baar ho raha hai na’? Asks the man next, who stood by me quietly for five seconds before he asked me what was all that [we were witnessing] about. I was almost done explaining but after his second question, there wasn’t anything else to say. I just nod. This is during Siddharth Kararwal’s fourth display of the installations he has created. Karerwal happens to be a chatterbox [as I’ve known him so far] and most importantly, one of the few brilliant artists who came together to make the city beautiful last month, under a splendid initiative by St+Art India along with Asian Paints. A bunch of table fans, taped and shaped garbage bags, bricks, stones and a small squad; roams around, finds a spot, takes out everything one by one, tries to get things right to get the installation working, goes over the already approved ‘permission’ from the city ‘rulers’. I hear someone say, ‘Bas idhar la kar daal diya hai’. And I see a woman talking about the work with one of the team photographers, Angad. Something seems to not work, they put it all back in the vehicle and we move to find another spot, preferably a more suitable one. And not before a long wait, we manage to find one. Then comes the task of getting it started, and the pure joy of watching reactions and thoughts. The pani puri wallah amidst the queue of tall human forms made out of garbage bags, keeps smiling and helps in all possible ways he can. Asks me to take a photo of him while he serves a customer. Young boys take out their cameras, the Chinese expat does it too. Bikers and cars slow down, cabs do too, but they won’t stop honking like always. Another location, a bigger one, a spacious one. I get my skirt stuck in the truck’s hook [not like I knew I would climb into one before I dressed that morning], and I see the city from a different angle, truck’s back. Long wait, enough smoke, noise, moving lights and a few pedestrians who stop by now and then. Traffic light goes red on our side, and people start murmuring and staring outside their windows. A dog has already made friends with each of the squad members. All she wanted was love. [I feel her]. The power-generator does’t work again, and now we see a couple of helpers pulling the wire through another source and we all wait. A biker stops, he has got three [or four] kids on the bike with him, all of different age groups. I think it’s a beautiful frame, I try to click, and they all look at me and smile. The hijab clad girls in the back turn back again and again as they take off. By now I’ve had three to four people ask me what is it about, and two of them take it seriously and understand that it is all about an important issue. A girl comes by, politely repeats the same question that I mentally prepared myself for, the moment I heard her say, excuse me. I make her meet one of the co-founders of the organisation, Hanif. She looks happy and curious. The installation starts to work while we talk, I scream out of joy, one minute, I say and run to take photos. She says she would check it out on social media platforms, before leaving and taking some clicks on her phone. We keep it going for a while, before the squad decides to call it a day and wraps the artist, Siddhartha in all the garbage bags, to make a living installation out of him. Fun is over, and everyone is off their own ways.
Apart from a lot of mentioned and unmentioned unnecessary details, this was precisely my evening/night five days ago, when I took off for my second and second last round to take a look at how these artists from different corners of the city/country/world had been painting the town red [in this case, multi-color]. A great initiative, don’t you think so? Since it involves people from different walks of life to be a part of it and support what needs our support the most – Art, stories and various forms of communication. People move, they are always moving. Have you noticed how everyone is in a hurry all the time? A second to stop, look, appreciate, help, talk, smile, seems to be a concept of the past era. Nonetheless, observe the reactions, retaliation, conversations, arguments, sharing, that are caused by smallest of the incidents in these smallest of the gatherings, or tiniest corner in the streets; it’s rather thought provoking than entertaining. And hey, art is subjective and so are the comments/remarks about it. However, takes a lot of thoughts to un-do the thoughts that the creator puts behind a piece of art. Some get it, some don’t. Some try, some don’t. However, if only jumping to a conclusion wasn’t easy or an option at all. A day spent with the team helped me understand the right perspective that one needs to see. From everything that is wrong with the society [that is us] that keeps us go passionately going behind our passion. The pros and cons of the society [that is us, again] and how it hampers the large scale growth of self expressing methods of communication. And the joy that comes along by sharing it with a bunch of people and when you connect with them on the same ground. Nothing but joy, sheer joy.
Photography and Post Production : Ritu Arya