'Naavu Idhevi - We Exist' by Aravani Art Project


The Aravani Art Project utilises 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 ostracisation of the Trans community in India, especially in public spaces with segregation of the kind of spaces they can inhabit and occupy. A participative painting process which put the trans community on the same platform as the larger public, allowed for a sense of integration and belonging for both communities, leading to a sharing of ideas, and breaking of barriers.

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.

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.

Aravani Art Project Naavu Idhevi We Exist Akshat Nauriyal
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 in unapologetic burst of colour.