Featuring nine artworks by Indian and global artists - including Shilo Shiv Suleman, the founder of the collective - the work will be available as art prints, postcards
In 2012, as the Nirbhaya protests erupted across the country, we witnessed: the unfiltered raw rage of women and men take over the streets with their demands to “Stop Violence Against Women” and “Hang the Rapist.” We also saw: fear mongering through endless streams of media fuelling visions of the streets being unsafe for women.
In response, artist Shilo Shiv Suleman created a single poster and put out a call: we know what we don’t want, but what about the world we do want? What does being Fearless in public space mean to you?
She received a flood of posters created by women and men articulating and affirming the safe and sacred worlds they were dreaming of.
In this moment, like many others, Beauty Saved because it was the antidote to fear and hate, it brought people together to speakfora cause, rather than against one, it fuelled the creative energy we need to first imagine (then build) our futures.
This series highlights some of the posters created by Shilo Shiv Suleman and other artists across the country - each made by a woman telling her own story through beautiful affirmations.
Fearless started with a single poster made in 2012 by artist Shilo Shiv Suleman as a response to national fear and trauma. This act inspired young artists and illustrators across the country and she watched as hundreds of posters began to pour in, sowing the seeds for a movement that seeks to make space to move from fear to love by using participative art. Since then, our team has expanded into a group of artists and activists from around the Global South.
Our work is community-led, collaborative and participative, so when we're out painting in the street our approach is opposite to doing something guerilla style. We always take permission to paint on the wall before we start. Our process is to paint over many days, pulling in as much engagement as possible, to have conversations as we do this, ask questions, answer them together. We work in a neighbourhood along with the community that live there and the actual image that's being painted is always conceived out of an immersive story-telling workshop with them. The idea being for them to be able to question and then find a way to represent themselves.
Every time we interact with a community the process is one of incredible learning, humility, healing and transformation. We are always inspired by the deep wells of beauty and resilience in the communities that we work with. Like earlier this year (what feels like a lifetime ago) while we were at Shaheen Bagh, we were completely taken under the protective wings of the women leading the resistance movement. This acceptance, connection and sense of solidarity (here and in every corner of the globe that we've worked in) fills our cup and keeps us doing the work that we do.
Now we want Fearless to become a global movement of people responding to fear with beauty and transforming the spaces they inhabit. We are dreaming of more women on the streets, paintbrushes in their hands, facilitating critical social justice conversations with communities, transforming them into art, and reclaiming public space. We want to make this dream come true through our first Fearless Collective Public Art Residency.
I asked a Sadhu at the Kumbh Mela, “Why do men worship the goddess on our walls, but rape women in their homes?” In his smoky haze he said: “When you see your own divinity and strength, all else will follow.” Convenient for a man to say, but perhaps there was some truth here. Instead of waiting to be liberated, I began to make an active effort to reclaim my right to my body, to public space, and spirituality. This is where Fearless began. By the banks of the Ganga, I painted an image of Durga upon her consort- a tiger- and a little girl and her cat looking up at her: “What We Worship We Shall Become”
My body is my business, the moon is my witness. I want to raise my eyes to the stars, not scan the crowd for strangers trying to steal my light. I will go out, redden my lips, wear my heart on my sleeves (or lack of them). I will not hesitate to meet your gaze, dear stranger, when we meet on the street. Created for the 2016 #IWillGoOut protests across India
ARTIST: NANDITA RATAN
“Being comfortable with not just one’s body, but also one’s mind is something I’ve found difficult. But I need to understand what I want in order to be the kind of person I would enjoy being around.”
ARTIST: SHILO SHIV SULEIMAN
Remember Pi, the world reflects your fear. Replace your fear with strength (and the world will change)
TITLE: PYAAR KIYA
ARTIST: SHILO SHIV SULEIMAN
Most often we come together to fill the streets in protest. Today we have the opportunity to gather together in celebration of a victory won by those who fought for love.
On the 6th September 2018, section 377, a colonial law banning sex between consenting adults of the same gender, was decriminalized.On this day we affirm Fearless Love.
TITLE: DARNA KYA
ARTIST: SHILO SHIV SULEIMAN
This is an accompanying piece to the Pyaar Kiya artwork affirming Fearless Love. It commemorates the decriminalisation of the colonial law Section 377 that banned consensual sex between people of the same gender.
TITLE: IF YOU LOVE
TITLE: BEAUTY SAVES
TITLE: BEAUTY IS RESISTANCE
The art you wear on your body or put in your house is contributing to creating more art in the streets with communities reclaiming their stories, around the world.
Also, keep an eye out for two more collections of Fearless Originals with Kulture Shop.