This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Can Urban Art Gain Mileage in India?

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Shraddha Sankhe:

Some months ago when I witnessed one Mumbai’s elite school’s bus being ‘ruined’ by its own gang of school boys-I was caught by surprise. Ruined here, I meant, spray painted in black, blue and purple colored graffiti. To add to the rising ‘culture’ of graffiti by Aerosol paint (also called spray paint) and with the initiative of the art professionals and enthusiasts of the city, the streets of Bandra, Dadar in Mumbai were painted in graffiti as a style of art that relates to cities and city life during the Kala Ghoda festival of Mumbai. That brings us to a form of art much younger in its form-the Urban Art.

“The term ‘urban’ art” according to the Osnat Fine Arts’ description “means ‘from the city’ which is derived from the Latin word ‘urbanus’. It is created by artists living, depicting or experiencing city life. The subject is often people living in city and also city building and transportation. Urban Art is the rawest form of graffiti. The term graffiti” comes from Itlalian word ‘graffio’ which means ‘to scratch’. Graffiti is related to gang related tagging of territory and means of getting attention but it is also associated with human with a need to express themselves. Some of the earliest forms of graffiti are the tribal inscriptions of early man on stone hence, the definition ‘to scratch’.”

Each city has its own style in every respect — food, society, culture, and street art. Street art, a tamer name for graffiti artists whose work has garnered the respect of fanatic art-lovers and simple city-dwellers alike, can refer to urban artists, graffiti artists with a reputation, video artists, and even those whose work has graced white gallery walls.

There’s not much of an urban art scene in India — at least not as its known to be in other parts of the world. Barring metros like Mumbai and Chennai, urban art is yet to be considered and looked up on in other parts of the country. There are a couple of artists making urban art. Jenny Bhat is one of the first urban artists from India. Globally, London, Berlin, New York and Los Angeles are the hot-spots of urban art. Buff Monster, Krah, Kenny Scharf, Ben Frost and Chiho Aoshim are among some popular urban artists.

Often, Urban art has found itself in much controversial situations, in India and globally. Urban art is closely associated with vandalism as it may be used as a form of expression on the street walls, building compounds, buses and other surfaces of private ownership. Josh Barbanal says, “Gentrification can sometimes raise complex emotions”. For the artist–urban art is an inexpensive, expressive form of art. But for the people who’ve had their property “ruined” could have to shell out a hefty sum for repairs/repainting -all for some one’s ‘passion or pass-time’.

Moreover, urban art is used in Mumbai and Delhi as a means of cheap advertisement. Often the spray painted graffiti of words ‘Bean Bag? Call now!’ ads are seen on every other pillar, wall and surfaces which sometimes specifically mention-‘Stick no bills’. This phenomenon has won many accolades for the advertisers for their low cost campaigns but has also received flak for their irresponsible behavior towards the city. For decades, urban art was considered a nuisance in the cities-not only in India but the world over. It was around the mid 1990s that got the governments and public authorities of the world accepted the urban art as a valid form of an art that had its birth and boom in the 1970s.

In the current scenario, most urban art on public surfaces is less condemned and looked upon as a thing of ‘local culture’.  Urban art on private property, nevertheless, still maintains a strain of ‘vandalism’. If encouraged and looked up on with the right spirit, those schools boys, I mentioned above, could take up art as a means of expression much seriously than destroy their school property!

J J School of Art in Mumbai offers a degree in illustration and graphic design.

Photo by hijukal / courtesy Flickr

You must be to comment.
  1. Tom

    some absolutely stunning graffiti artists at http://www.graffiti4hire.co.uk

    i have never ever seen any graffiti art like this, you may wanna check it out guys

    1. YouthKiAwaaz

      Thanks for sharing Tom.

  2. rishi bradoo

    poorly informed article. you’ve just scratched the surface.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Roy Watson

By Oorja Bhatnagar

By Ungender Legal Advisory

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below