An armed guard stands in front of two children. His gun is pointed downwards, and instead of using it, he blows bubbles for the youngsters to play with. Recalling an image from George Orwell’s 1984, giant military boots are in the process of stamping on crossed hands that signal a dove. In another artwork, there is a map of India, with a slight difference – it has become “topless” without the familiar sight of “heaven on earth”, aka Kashmir.
These are a few of the works of art created by artists around India as a show of solidarity with the state, which exists in a constant state of turmoil. The art project, titled Screaming Canvases, is documented in the video above, which features interviews with the artists and the art work created. The collaboration was initiated by development practitioner Omar Hafiz through an initiative titled “ATHWAAS – Handshakes for peace”.
The artists not only use artwork and photograph but crochet, sculptures and even fonts to depict their reactions to the reality of Kashmir. For instance, Kashish from Maharashtra uses a pixellated font to write “athwaas”, the Kashmiri word for handshake, to depict the distorted reality of the state. In Devnagari, the shirorekha is removed to create a picture that is incomplete and “without a top”.
“Let’s not (just) love Kashmir, let’s love Kashmiris too,” says Kerala-based Jithin Prasannan, the man behind the image of “topless India”. Which, as messages go, is nothing too controversial and could be appreciated by people on both sides of the fence.