Around the City

Aravani Art Project

As part of St+art Bangalore 2016, we collaborated with the Aravani Art Project to create the 'Naavu Idhevi' - We Exist’ mural on the city's Dhanvantri Road.

Done in the collective’s signature style of using geometric patterns, the mural featured a very significant citizen - the trans-person, and spoke to us of their existence in today's dense society. The piece proposed to remind residents of the city of our longstanding acceptance of gender fluidity - a theme that was played around with throughout St+art Bangalore 2016.

The 'Naavu Idhevi' mural in the making, Bangalore, 2016. The name for the community comes from ‘Aravani’ meaning a person who worships Lord Aravan, the patron God of transgenders. Realising that art can be used to promote inclusiveness, Poornima kicked off the Art Project by bringing artists and members of the transgender community to a wall near K.R. Market.

The participative process of painting fostered creativity and a sense of being. It also encouraged and enabled the Aravanis to use art as a tool to express stories of freedom, dreams of acceptance and hopes of possibilities.

While the piece was being painted, a sensitization session also attempted to break the barrier between “us” and “them”. Complete with song and dance, the platform doubled up as an engagement zone for the community. It added to our understanding of the cause and directed us to its finer nuances. The Aravanis who are often relegated to the margins of society sought to live a life of dignity. Looking for sources of livelihood outside of begging and sex work, they worked to foster a culture of inclusiveness.

Final reveal of the mural 'Naavu Idhevi - We Exist.’ The painting uses geometric shapes that form a gender fluid face refusing to look away and the Hibiscus flower well-known for having both male and female parts. Like the trans-person, the Hibiscus grows on the fringe, a familiar bloom that lights up our streets with an unapologetic burst of colour.