Art with heart and vision: Gurgaon kids highlight community issues with artwork

Vishal Diwaker, 14, is no stranger to the Ramlila ground in Gurgaon’s Kanhai village. Every morning, before he helps his father set up his ironing shop, he goes for a run in the park. On Friday evening, however, Diwaker was at the park for a different reason.“Gurgaon mein kaafi badlav aaya hai. Pehlay yahan bohot kheti hoti thi. Ab aapko sirf buildings hi dikhengi (There has been a lot of change in Gurgaon. Earlier, there used to be a lot of farming here, now you’ll just see buildings),” said Diwaker, one of the 12 artists participating at the two-day ‘Growing Gurgaon’ Community Art festival. As Diwaker explained his artwork, a crowd tried to make their way into a small hexagonal room made of plywood. Diwaker gently told them with a smile, “There are large mirrors inside. It might break.”When a visitor asked Diwaker to step inside along with her to explain his idea, the teenager, reluctantly yet smiling, went along. Once inside, he spoke about Gurgaon’s growing urbanisation with conviction: “There are paintings on three alternating walls and mirrors on three others.” Pointing towards the one on his right, he said, “This side shows a farmer with his land. The second painting shows the zamindar taking the money.And this one in front of you, is what Gurgaon will become.”The painting showed high-rises soaring in the dark and gloomy sky. Two human figures at the bottom-half of the 6ft-long painting seemed to be coughing. “The mirror acts like an instrument in bringing together these three phases of the transition,” he explained, for the umpteenth time that day.

Underprivileged youth from Kanhai village used art as a medium to express their thoughts on the urban realities and the problems in their community. “Through my project, I want to make people more aware of what we are heading towards. I want to ask people to stop razing the agricultural lands for commercial purposes,” said Diwaker.

When asked about his favourite project, Diwaker was quick to point towards a wire-mesh cow structure filled with plastic bags. The artist behind this installation, Kishan Sahu, 18, conceptualised the project when he saw stray cows in his area feeding on plastic bags.

“It shows a huge difference in how these cows are treated in villages and in cities. Eventually, the milk they give will not be very beneficial,” Sahu informed a crowd of over 100 people attending the festival. “To research more on the issue, I decided to follow a distinct-looking cow for a couple of days and see what she feeds on,” Sahu explained to one of the visitors. “You will be surprised to know that the cow takes the same route every day. She recognises the houses that give her roti.”

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