Guess Who will be voting?

At a time when the Game of Thrones buzz is reaching feverish heights among urban audiences, street artist Guess Who asks in a trademark scathing manner, “Shouldn’t we be concerned about the real games of thrones? Shouldn’t we all be worried about who’s going to be in power and take decisions that impact each and every individual?”

The Kochi-based anonymous street artist, who was termed India’s own Banksy, shot to global fame in 2012 after his/her artworks kept popping up across the country, on run-down buildings and posh studios, from Kochi and Chennai, to Bengaluru, Delhi, and even Khagaria, Bihar.

In 2015, the artist had come to Chennai to speak at Stella Maris College, through an anonymous Skype session, for the Goethe Street Art Fest. And yet, it was so under wraps, that all that Guess Who left as evidence of being there was graffiti on the Stella Maris wall.

In the run up to the elections, Guess Who has been posting political satire art, on walls both real and Instagram. In one, a black-and-white man with the face of a cow, folds his hands as if to plead: #NotinMyName is stencilled underneath. In another, stands a faceless politician with a buttoned jacket, emblazoned with corporate logos.

Guess Who will be voting?

“Don’t forget to vote for your favourite corporate,” reads the caption. “As an artist, these are my takes on certain social issues. They aren’t created to propagate any specific messages, but if they trigger conversations about anything, then the artist has done her/his part,” says Guess Who, in an email interview. “Not just artists, as social beings, as citizens, it is everyone’s responsibility to be aware of situations and respond to it.”

To Guess Who’s credit, the artist has been putting up his pop-art works as a reaction to developments in the country, and the world. In a gender-bending series, traditionally macho-looking men carry pots of water and make rotis, while women in saris skateboard and ride Harley Davidsons. Then again some are plain silly: such as of Harry Potter, as a potter.

Guess Who will be voting?

Impressed with the progress street art has made so far, Guess Who marks the wall opposite Cabral Yard in Fort Kochi, a venue for the Kochi Biennale, as where it all began. “In 2012, there were only a couple of commissioned walls in Kochi. But the whole wall opposite Cabral Yard is covered with stencils, tags, paste ups and stickers. So many artists from all over the country and abroad visited Kochi and painted all over the place… Now there isn’t an inch left.”

The artist adds that good quality spray cans have also become more easily available. However, even though “many artists are doing murals, there still aren’t many takers for subversive street art”.

And that’s one of the reasons why the artist still remains anonymous. “It helps keep the focus on the art rather than the artist. People can then look at a work without being prejudiced about the artist’s gender, caste, religion, and age. Could you look at these works with an unbiased approach had you known those details about the artist?”

That’s anybody’s guess.

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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 5:14:33 AM |

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