Art is a vehicle that can travel far and wide. It stands tall and elegant when used as a form of protest. Artists Unite is a platform that brings together artists across the country with the intention that speak “for democracy and against hate.” The collective was formed in 2017 to discuss the dwindling strengths of democracy. This weekend will see events organized under this banner in major cities for mitigating the challenges faced by democracy in recent times and the hate politics that is sweeping the country.
“The hate crimes, attacks on minorities and the ways in which our democratic values are being flouted, we feel that this is an assault on the culture fiber of India.”, says the event co-organiser and independent filmmaker Saba Dewan. Artists unite is a banner that stands against the cultural narrative spawned by the ideology of hate and revenge. They speak for the intrusion against democracy which is a celebration of a collective will for peace dignity and equality.
The signatories of Artists Unite include a diverse list of well-known names from the field of arts in India including artists Atul Dodiya, Nalini Malini, Ranbir Kaleka, Sudhir Patwardhan, Venkat Raman Singh Shyam and Vivan Sundaram; art critic and historian Geeta Kapur; dancers Aditi Mangaldas, Astad Deboo, Mallika Sarabhai and Navtej Johar; film- Anand Patwardhan, Chitra Palekar, Kabir Khan, Kiran Rao, Nandita Das, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Shonali Bose and; screenwriters Anjum Rajabali, Vinay Shukla and Shama Zaidi; actors Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah; musicians Neela Bhagwat, Rahul Ram, T M Krishna and Vidya Rao; and photographers Dayanita Singh and Sudharak Olwe. Amongst others who have signed the declaration are poets Adil Jussawala, Ashok Vajpayi, K. Satchidanandan and Mangalesh Dabral; puppeteer Dadi Pudumjee; theatre practitioners Mahesh Dattani, Mahesh Eklunchwar and Sunil Shanbag, and writers Arundhati Roy, G N Devy, Githa Hariharan, Jerry Pinto, Meena Kandasamy, Shanta Gokhale, Shashi Deshpande and Vishnu Nagar.
2020 group, a part of this initiative has been formulated which uses posters as a new language spreading their ideas creatively. They release a poster every day with about 60 artists contributing to the campaign. The posters are released without credits and are free of copyright. The posters can be downloaded, printed and shared by anyone.
The protest performances will take place on March 2 across several cities including Mumbai, (2020: Walk For The Future) Chennai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Dharvad, among others. Delhi will see a mega-event Chalo Laal Qila over two days on March 2-3 where close to 200 prominent artists will take the stage at the Red Fort lawns.