'Naavu Idhevi - We Exist' by Aravani Art Project

The Aravani Art Project utilises use the visual arts to create safe spaces for the transgender community in our society. As part of St+art Bangalore 2016, they created the 'Naavu Idhevi - We Exist’ mural on Dhanvantri Road in the city.

The project was built in a way that was open and participative. There has long been an ostracization of the Trans community in India, especially in public space with segregation of the kind of spaces they can inhabit and occupy. Through a participative painting process which put the trans community on the same platform as the larger public, it allowed for a sense of integration and belonging for both communities, leading to a sharing of ideas, and breaking of barriers.

Aravani Art Project Naavu Idhevi We Exist Akshat Nauriyal

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

While the piece was being painted, a sensitization session was also done which invited people to engage in conversation around Trans communities. It allowed for open discussions around the barrier of “us” and “them”. Complete with song and dance, the platform doubled up as a celebration. The Aravanis who are often relegated to the margins of society also aspire to lead lives of dignity and occupation, looking for sources of livelihood outside of begging and sex work, and this project aimed at fostering a culture of inclusiveness.