A listicle of artists-activists.
Hazel Gandhi, Managing Editor
Be it through street marches and peaceful protests in the past, to the current display of empowerment through social media, good old activism can never be curtailed or suppressed. It only changes in form, and emerges even better than before. And now, activism has integrated itself with a medium that speaks volumes through platforms and generations - art. More and more artists have now taken up matters in their own hands, or rather their brushes, and changed the way we perceive issues ranging from sexuality to politics, and everything in between. Here is a list of creators that have given a fitting reply to anyone who questioned the success of empowerment on social media by giving them a taste of a whole new, revamped form of activism.
1. Rachita Taneja (@sanitarypanels)
A regular contributor to the Forbes India page for comics and art on politics, Rachita Taneja’s art has been the epitome of dissent. Her use of a subtle and minimalistic black and white backdrop for her webcomics makes sure that her message comes across as strong as her art. She is also known to be vocal about Dalit rights and engages in calling out news channels that continue peddling their agendas at the cost of their viewers. She has aced the intersectionality between politics and art, and continues to do so with her need to strive for accuracy while giving out an authentic message.
2. Priyanka Paul (@artwhoring)
A 20-year old feminist, Priyanka Paul is also a writer, poet, storyteller and illustrator. Her illustrations combined with her poetry make for a great combination of art that is not only inspirational, but strives to challenge the status-quo. The name of her art page is inspired by the fact that words like ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ often demean sex workers even though theirs is one of the oldest professions in the country. According to her, art is also looked down upon in a similar manner, which is why she likes to call her page exactly that. Her boldness paves the way for a stand as fierce as this, while also throwing light at the way we look at everyday society issues.
3. Divya Seshadri (@bydviya)
Divya Seshadri is an illustrator that has vastly covered issues of the LGTBQIA+ community, while also being vocal about the issues that women face on a daily basis. She covers a range of current topics that involve issues of caste and race. She has a unique way of incorporating them in her art- with a tinge of quirk. Her posts will make you think hard while also appreciating the thought process that has gone into creating art like this. Her subtle yet impactful sarcasm is difficult to miss, and surely impossible to ignore.
4. Anwesh Sahoo (@the.effeminare)
This page is curated by Anwesh Sahoo, who is an illustrator, model and TedX Speaker. He uses this platform to propagate values like gender pluralism and queer rights through his illustrations. Between these posts, you will also see an opinionated side of Anwesh that clearly shows that his art doesn’t just portray his talent, but is also a form of expression close to his heart. For Pride month, he made a portrait depicting the stigma when it comes to expression of love by same-sex couples. He uses his platform to educate people about the LGBTQ+ movement while guiding them out of their bubble of ignorance, one step at a time.
5. Ayush Kalra (@ayushkalra)
Based in New Delhi, Ayush Kalra has recently gained a lot of traction owing to his unique format. He combines illustrations of Indian women donning traditional Indian clothes like sarees with heavy borders, makeup and jewelry. With this, he makes them do things like smoking joints, talking about boys like a millennial would while sipping on chai and smoking sutta. The reason for this stark contrast is to put an end to the belief that women should uphold certain standards of decency and innocence that is expected of them on a daily basis. It is an attempt to bring people closer to an awakening that is long overdue.
The way these creators use their space and create art is extremely unique to themselves and very different from their peers, be it their colour schemes, their subjects, or their choice of topic. But, they do have one thing in common- the undying need to deliver the brutal truth. They have made use of their platform to not only showcase their talent, but make themselves relevant. In our postmodern society that is full of judgement and criticisms, they have found their own little space from where they push for change.