Chennai Street Art! And What’s a “Hoarding”?

Photo Credit, City Connect

Interested in Street art?  Want to know what street art looks like in India? Want to know what happens when people from different cultures collaborate?  Wonder what similar or different themes occur in another place? Just curious?

I did.  I always want to know what kind of art is happening in places I visit and live.  I just typed in “Chennai and Street Art” and a found a program sponsored by the Goethe Institut. The Goethe Institut is a world-renowned German organization  that sponsors programs that develop cultural relationships.  In this specific program the Goethe Institut brought artists together from several countries to collaborate on public awareness art projects that transformed a public space to bring about dialogue.  This initiative made art accessible to the general public by placing art in neighborhoods that were known for having a tradition of “hoarding” artwork.

I know, “hoarding” is a really strange word to associate with artwork.  You’re probably picturing someone who obsessively collects things.  This is not the definition that we’re using here.  Hoarding is a British term for “billboard”.  The artwork created by the international crew of artists through the Goethe Institut was put in places formally occupied by hoardings.

Hoardings were basically hand-painted larger than life movie posters (100 x 20 feet).  Movie studios consistently employed groups of 20 artists who were adept figure painters, letter writers, and background painters who had to collaborate and complete the advertisement in as little as two days.  There was stiff competition between the movie studios to get the space to advertise.  As digital photography and printing have become much more sophisticated, it’s also made advertising a lot cheaper.  Unfortunately, this put artists out of work in favor of lower costs and quicker turnaround for these gigantic billboards.

Photo credit, The Hindu Archives

The articles online suggest that this project is one that brings art back to the people, however, one could say that artists who created the pieces in “Conquer the Concrete” are bringing issues of globalization to light by reclaiming the space that hoardings might have occupied years ago.

Now I know some of you will be interested in this .


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