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Budhwar Peth Pune May 2017

Chapter 009|Drushtikon Badla (Change your perspective)

A hopeful beginning of change in the way we perceive the transgender community. We conducted the Pune chapter in collaboration with Pune Biennale, Pune Speaking Walls and Aarogya Seva. We collaborated with the transgender community and painted the wall of the old Shrikrishna theatre that lies in the heart of the red light area in Budhwar Peth. While 10-15 members from the community engaged with us, Not all of them were forthcoming to participate, the project also saw photographers, filmmakers and youngsters who believed in the cause, joining in

Centered on the theme ‘Dhrishtikon Badla’ (which translates to ‘change your perspective’), the wall was completed over two days.

Though this was our ninth chapter, it was a life-changing one. We've painted in red light areas before, but there's only so much we knew about Budhwar Peth till we actually reached Pune. When we saw the set-up so conservative ourselves, we knew that painting in this area would be a big deal.

And rightly so, we were actually intervening into spaces where sex-oriented business is carried out regularly. Many sex workers weren't happy about the fact that the project was intervening and snatching their limelight. It took them a day to really understand why we were there. There were other transgender individuals who came out of their lanes to participate, but the moment the wall began to attract media and local attention, many fled. It felt like the project was in jeopardy.

That's when we decided to briefly abandon the wall and move into the narrow lanes, away from the main wall. We decided that there is more than photographing and documenting what we do and to just be in the present with the community. There, we created little artworks on the walls with the community, gaining their trust in their own space.

The community actually opened up in there. This was a major learning takeaway for us. Maybe we should have worked with them in their private spaces, and then graduated to the wall outside.

But it seems like the project isn't over after all. We have sketched outlines in the lanes for the community to continue painting. It's overwhelming when they send up updates of their art work regularly. We plan to come back to Pune soon. We did a lot with the community over the last weekend, but there's much more they'd like to say through art.

A collaboration with Pune Bienalle || Funded by Aarogya Seva.

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