The streets of Panaji have been given a new lease of life with the St+art Goa project curated by Hanif Kureshi as part of recently-concluded Serendipity Arts Festival. NT BUZZ spoke to Hanif to know more about this project that revolved on the common theme – ‘Goa and Goans’
Sheras Fernandes | NT BUZZ
If you travelled to Panaji in the third week of December when the Serendipity Arts Festival was in full swing you must’ve seen the difficult-to-miss billboard style cut-outs, murals and sign paintings on display. Well, these creative pieces of art were part of the St+art Goa project curated by Hanif Kureshi that aimed to look at Goa from the perspective of creative artists. With the aim to make art available for all, a group of international and national artists got together to paint the streets in Panaji as part of the festival. The global street art movement is gaining popularity, with a new breed of artists going from country to country painting and leaving their mark on the streets. “The theme of the artworks was Goa and Goans and how Goa looks at outsiders and how outsiders look at Goa,” says Hanif. He strongly feels that the streets in Panaji can be turned in a walk-in art gallery soon. “We feel that this place could be developed as an art gallery where one can walk and discover arts and do away with doors and timings,” says Hanif.
After organising several similar exhibitions across India, the St+art India Foundation has put arts on the street with international artists including Guido Van Helten (Australia), Curiot (Mexico), Do and Khatra (India), Parag Sonarghare (India), Daku, Ayaz Basrai, Kafeel, Shabbu among others. The artworks can be seen at the multi level car parking building in Patto; PWD Complex near old Patto Bridge; the road near Clube Nacional and Junta House, in Panaji. “Street art is something you are not expecting to see and when you discover it, it creates a larger impact. Through these artworks we nurture Indian talents and contemporary artists,” says Hanif. He opines that when something is in a public space everyone has their own view and understanding of it. “An image can have different connotations to different people and they can decode it differently,” says Hanif.
Hanif who was also part of last year’s festival, did the ground work of the project then, going in search of walls and possible places that the artists could paint. “I moved around the streets in the city during my 21-day stay in Goa. I strongly feel that art can change the dynamics of the surrounding like it did for the wall near Clube Nacional. The place which was earlier used as a toilet has now become a colourful street and people no longer mess it up.”
Besides the street art project, Hanif speaks about two other projects that encompassed the St+art Goa project – Shutters Project and Cut-out Project. A total of 11 shutters in Panaji were painted under the Shutter Project, with a lesson in vocabulary and proverbs used by our grandparents’ generation. “The Shutter Project passes on the proverbs once used by our grandparents to the present generation. A generation before us used it as part of their day-to-day language. These shutters are a great medium to pass down a local proverb to the new generation,” says Hanif who adds that the proverbs have been written in Konkani and Latin.
The Cut-out Project is another interesting one where characters of Goa were put up at different places in the city. “The Cut-out Project looks at Goan personalities. Through the cut-outs we have put up characters of Goa, not stereotyping it but keeping it general,” says Hanif.
Though the cut-outs have been taken off the streets of Panaji, the painted walls and the shutters with the various proverbs are still visible for people to appreciate.