St+art India Foundation, TANSACS, Tidel Park and Southern Railway have come together to create India’s largest mural titled ‘We Are‘. The art work supported by Asian Paints, began in December last year; took approximately 40 days to complete and spans a vast 63,000 sq. ft. It aims to de-stigmatise the HIV and AIDS affected community and empower them while sharing hopeful stories of survivors.
Panoramic view of mural by A-kill & Khatra at Indiranagar St – St+Art Chennai 2021 – photo by Pranav Gohil
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India has the third largest HIV epidemic in the world. In 2017, HIV prevalence among adults (aged 15-49) was an estimated 0.2%. This figure is small compared to most other middle-income countries but because of Indias huge population (1.3 billion people) this equates to 2.1 million people living with HIV.
We Are – Mural by A-Kill & Khatra at Indiranagar St – St+Art Chennai 2021 – photo by Pranav Gohil
Overall, this epidemic is slowing down. Between 2010 and 2017 new infections declined by 27% and AIDS-related deaths more than halved, falling by 56%. (Source: UNAIDS Data 2018) However, issues including HIV-related stigma and low levels of awareness about how it is transmitted mean progress is not moving as quickly as hoped. With this mural, we aim to bust the myths and misconceptions that have stuck around and break away from the discrimination that arises from it!
The panoramic mural, titled ‘We Are‘, spreads the message of shared humanity, of how people suffering or having recovered from AIDS deserve equal rights and a place in society. The mural drives this message home by mixing portraits of AIDS patients with those who dont, showing how we are all human, and the same.
The mural is designed by Chennai-based graffiti writer and street artist A-Kill, along with Delhi-based Khatra. A-Kill, whose work is inspired by visuals offered by the streets and everyday life, is renowned for his skilled hand in portraiture, and his special connect with Chennai is reflected in this mural. This month-long project will be unveiled at Chennai’s Indira Nagar Railway Station.
COVID-19 has demonstrated that, during a pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe. Leaving people behind is not an option if we are to succeed. With this ideology in mind, this mural reflects the theme of this year’s World AIDS Day, as declared by UNAIDS: “Global solidarity, shared responsibility“. Portraying several diverse yet familiar faces, the artwork celebrates these unique identities while reinforcing the notion that there are no physical determinants to AIDS.
The length of the Indira Nagar railway platform is 280 meters. Seen running through the station facade is the red ribbon – recognised symbol of AIDS awareness, and whose vivid red hue represents ideas of love and passion. The continuous flow of this powerful emblem across the station changes its landscape, emphasises the notion of community and collective responsibility and ceme