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Art under COVID 19

The ongoing crisis unleashed by the COVID 19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown has brought the world to a grinding halt. The most susceptible to this are the urban migrant communities like the one we are working with in Kapashera. After we were forced to close our art studio due to the lockdown, we decided continue our collaboration with the Seven Sisters women’s collective in Kapashera under the COVID lockdown. The collaboration, which is conducted over the phone and over Whatsapp supports the women to deal with the unspoken atrocities taking place under the lockdown. The project is intended to serve as a visual archive of the lockdown and how migrant communities are organizing collectively in relation to them. Below are some of the art pieces they produced over the last weeks under the lockdown. Post the lockdown, we are planing to put these pieces as a collective tapestry to serve as an archive of the unspoken violence and apathy that the labour migrants faced under the unprecedented COVID lockdown.


Sunita depicts someone sick with COVID 19 in Kapashera, the family is trying its best to isolate from them in their small 12 sq.m. room, but it is difficult to maintain social distance.


The situation for labor migrants in Delhi has been really drastic. Here Sunita depicts a somber scene in Kapashera. Everyone is scared she says but wearing hand stitched masks.


Sunita depicts someone sick with COVID 19 in Kapashera, the family is trying its best to isolate from them in their small 12 sq.m. room, but it is difficult to maintain social distance.


The ghostly presence of Hazmat suits in Kapashera. As if a phantom world has descended upon it with the virus. Sunita draws the eerie medical landscape of Kapashera.


Anita depicts nature taking over as people are locked down inside. 
She draws from the fragments of her village, the longing to go back.


An eleventh hour address, an uninformed lockdown and nowhere to go. Anita reflects on life under lockdown stranded in a 12 sq.m. space with her family of four. She depicts the famous televised address announcing the lockdown that forgot to factor the life of millions of migrants like her.


Last week, thousands of labor migrants poured out to catch a few buses that were 
assigned to carry them home. Mamta from our group draws her testimony to the incident. 
She draws the dazed migrants and the police violently trying to bring them to comply.


Policing the distancing. Anita draws the mandatory distance rule enforced under the watchful eyes of the police. Everyone must walk two meters apart if they are ever to step out.


Art as a witness of unspoken violence under COVID. Anita depicts a violent scene that took place in her tenement recently. Her family members were beaten up by a group of local men. "They beat us up for a mere act of going out to get groceries." She depicts the vigilantes as big figures in red and green, while the ones being beaten in black. She drew this piece in a shaken state.


A continuation to the previous post on art as a witness of unspoken violence. Anita depicts the terror of vigilantes patrolling streets of Kapashera under the lockdown. Stick wielding men have been beating up anyone who steps outside even to get basics. The whole settlement becomes an extension to the governmentality that the Yadavs extend on the lives and bodies of the migrants.


Daily supplies, especially fruits and vegetables have been hard to come by in the times of crisis in Kapashera. Mamta draws her wait to find vegetable vendors in Kapashera.


We are off on long journeys with our bags on our heads. We are ready to walk thousands of kilometers with all that we have. Mamta reflects on the recent migrant exodus triggered by the lockdown.


Anita depicts how nature is restoring itself with human activity in lockdown 
and how we could use this as a portal to find a balance with nature. 


Mamta depicts the cosmos that her life has become limited to under the lockdown. She depicts the police patrolling the streets, hitting anyone who dares to walk out of their tenements. Her entire family has been restricted into the tiny and little ventilated space of 12 square meters for weeks now.


Anita draws the interior space of their room in Kapashera. 
How the family has been very carefully rationing the limited supply of groceries and daily essentials. 


Forced into homes without a source of income many people in Kapashera can’t pay for electricity anymore. Sunita depicts how some people have started stealing electricity directly from the high wire and how this leads often to blackouts in Kapashera.


Asha draws a person sick with COVID in her tenement block and someone administering care to her from distance. We love her play of scale, how she chose to represent the bodily and psychological transformations of the person who is down with COVID.


Alcoholism under COVID. Mamta draws long queues outside alcohol shops after the lifting of some restrictions in Kapashera. Alcoholism, which is already a big problem in Kapashera will add to the unspoken violence under the lockdown she feels.


Lots of time and everyone at home. Mamta depicts how even a small space can become a space of play. She draws her four daughters playing a game of ludo at home.


In the midst of this terrible despair, the pandemic offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can walk through lightly with little luggage, ready to imagine another world, and ready to fight for it. -Arundhati Roy, artwork by Anita.

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