India Museum Turns to Transgender Art Collective for First Commission

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday August 11, 2020

A museum in Bangalore, India, is turning to a collective of transgender and female-identifying artists to transform the museum's external framework into a vibrant public art installation.

The Aravani Art Project is currently finishing a mural named "The Story of Bangalore." The work is the first-ever to be commissioned and hosted by The Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), also in Bangalore. The commission, painted across the museum's shuttering, aims to reflect inclusiveness and foster collaboration between the museum and the artists.

"The 'Story of Bangalore' captures the myriad communities that live and breathe in this vibrant, urban landscape," states MAP and the Aravani Art Project. "From migrant workers who have built the glass-facade buildings in the city's technology parks to the IT workforce that populate them — Bengaluru's " techies" who have arrived here from different parts of the country and the world. The city's traffic cops are instantly recognizable with their distinctive cowboy hats standing companionably alongside a person from the trans community. The entire artwork visually weaves together the stories of hundreds of people who have made Bangalore their home and reflects MAP's vision of what the museum hopes to be — a space for a collection which unlocks stories that the community wants to hear and share and inspire each other with."

The Aravani Art Project was founded to create a safe space for the under-represented in the art world, including a platform for transgender voices to reach wider audiences. The collective has contributed street art and taken part in art festivals in varied spaces in the public sphere. With the intent to encourage discourse on gender identities and empower trans people in their interactions with the broader community, the collective's latest partnership with MAP brings this mission to life.

This ties in with the mission of MAP, which also encourages dialogue and engagement by making art more easily accessible to a wide audience. Drawing from a rich history of art in India, MAP is "motivated by the belief that museums should play a positive role in society."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.