An art collective from Mumbai aims to counter divisiveness and the language of polarisation on social media through posters.
After the recent Pulwama attack, when the tensions were on an all-time high, rancorous messages of hate were ubiquitous on social media. While some individuals did try to pacify such acts of narratives, it had become clear that such bouts of hate and intolerance had become a frenzied habit of people with myopic understanding. Hence, to counter such hate narratives including other contemporary concerns, an art collective of Mumbai has been diligently publishing a poster on Instagram every night since over a month.
PostersUnite! is an online art and awareness campaign by city-based 2020 Group that consists of 150 members from across disciplines like art, architecture, design and filmmaking among others. For the members of the art coalition, the aim of the project is to ‘counter divisiveness and language of polarisation’ by creating ‘alternative visions.’
“There was a need for artists to come together to talk about the things happening in our country. We were somewhere working in our cocoon and were not responding to the public or taking any responsibility. I think all the artists at that time felt the need to come (together). So, there was a call by a few of us and luckily everybody came,” reveals a member about the inspiration for the formation of 2020 Group.
During the conceptualising, the group members sought to find a medium through which they could express their collective dissent and realising the power of the visuals, they zeroed down on posters. “If it is a protest then the language is going to be posters and parade. So, we said, can that language be thought of? Protest doesn’t really mean posters, but can there be any other language of saying that I do not like it, I object?” says the members about the ideation process.
The posters have illustrations and slogans highlighting freedom of speech, rights of the farmers, beef-ban, lynching, censorship, propaganda politics, communalism and caste exploitation among other subjects that have come under the scanner in the contemporary times.
The visual artist, who chose to remain anonymous to represent the collective voice of the art group, informs that the initiative is to call people to think about the present and the near future before the run into the 2019 General Elections. “We really don’t remind people of the past. We are not talking about what happened in 2002 or 1992. But, we are talking about the present and the future. That is the main thing of the platform. Hence, we have thought of calling it 2020 to look at the nearest future,” says the member.
Moreover, the posters are available for downloading and sharing on various platforms. Since the posters are also anonymous, all the artwork are copyleft. “The strength of any collective is that it spreads, it goes all over the world. You do that by allowing everybody to have ownership. So, they are copyleft and downloadable for people to take it for their event, shows or juloos (procession),” says the member.
Although social media has become the number one platform for people to spew hate, the member believes that despite being at odds with some formats, the hate can be countered by reclaiming that platform for such healthy dissenting dialogues. “Put the social media in the right place. Using it in the right way and do it persistently. I have issues with social media but I raise it on social media,” she concludes.